Liberty’s Savanah Doney named Softball Player of Year
The future apparently was now this past softball season.
Although so many teams featured some of their youngest teams in recent memory, the underclassmen made huge impacts. Multiple teams had no seniors on their roster but all six classifications produced at least one district finalist. Driving home how impressive the young talent in this area is the Sun-Gazette All-Star team starting lineup features nothing but underclassmen for the first time.
Just think how great the coming years might be.
Coach of the Year
Second runners-up–Mike Poorman, Bucktail and Ron Brought, Wellsboro: Poorman helped Bucktail put together its best season and reach the playoffs for the first time. It was a dramatic turnaround and the Bucks also won their first playoff game while coming within a victory of reaching states. Poorman and the Bucks could be one of the district’s best Class A teams next season with all but two starters returning. Brought helped Wellsboro continue its winning ways in his first season, guiding a team with no seniors to a third straight NTL-I championship. The Hornets grew better as the season progressed, won 18 games and came within six outs of reaching a third straight district final.
First runners-up–Lynn Grinnell and Brandy Heatley, North Penn-Liberty: Grinnell and Heatley have helped lead a softball renaissance at North Penn-Liberty. The Mounties set a new standard in 2017, setting a program record for wins (17), reaching their first state tournament and also their first district final. Liberty beat NTL champion Wellsboro in the District 4 Class AAA semifinals and were a big hit from beating state semifinalist Mid Valley, losing a heart-breaking state tournament opener, 2-1. With all but three players returning next season, Liberty could be just getting warmed up.
And the winner is…Scott Stugart, South Williamsport: Speaking of a young team doing big things, Stugart helped a team with five freshmen starters put together an excellent season. Stugart pressed all the right buttons as South went 15-3 and won a share of its first league championship since 2007. The Mounties navigated a tough schedule with just two senior starters, made big strides throughout the season and beat strong Class AAA teams like Warrior Run and Loyalsock. Stugart, his staff and his players are all relentless workers and South could be poised for an excellent run the next few seasons.
Honorable Mention: Joe Tedesco, St. John Neumann; Ben Trew, Central Mountain; Tom O’Malley, Loyalsock; Mike Tate, Montoursville; Kevin Miller, Muncy; Garth Watson, Warrior Run; Quint Bower, Williamsport.
Pitcher of the Year
Second runners-up–Kat Ebner, Muncy and Savanah Doney, North Penn-Liberty: Ebner dominated the Mid-Penn Conference and had the best season of her excellent scholastic career, winning an area-high 18 games. Ebner also broke the Muncy career record for strikeouts, going 18-5 with a 1.43 ERA, seven shutouts and 116 strikeouts. She also allowed just 79 hits in 132 innings, held opponents to a .160 batting average and led Muncy to its first state tournament appearance since 2009. Doney established herself as one of the district’s top pitchers, going 17-6 with a 1.49 ERA and striking out 124. The sophomore finished second in shutouts, throwing eight and allowed only 117 hits in 150 innings. Doney threw two no-hitters and held explosive Mifflinburg and Mid Valley to 10 combined hits in the postseason.
First runner-up–Alyssa Yungwirth, Wellsboro: Already one of the best pitchers in Wellsboro history, Yungwirth dominated the opposition for a third straight season and went 16-2 with a 2.03 ERA. An overpowering pitcher with nasty stuff, Yungwirth struck out an area-high 178 hitters and allowed only 68 hits in 115 innings while throwing four shutouts and a no-hitter against Jersey Shore. Yungwirth has 36 career wins and 385 strikeouts, helping Wellsboro capture three NTL-I championships. Yungwirth topped 10 strikeouts nine times and threw a three-hit shutout against Bloomsburg in districts that included 14 strikeouts. She also was 12-1 against district-qualifying teams and 6-1 against state-qualifying teams.
And the winner is…Kylie Brouse, Milton: It takes someone special to wrestle this award from Yungwirth and that is what Brouse was once again. The senior earns her second straight Pitcher of the Year Award after going 17-2 with a sub-1.00 ERA, best among area pitchers. Brouse dominated opponents with tremendous accuracy and a wicked curveball. She threw an area-high nine shutouts and struck out 147 while walking just nine. Brouse held opponents to four hits or fewer nine times and won 38 games the past two seasons. She also threw a district-best 19 shutouts during that time.
Player of the Year
Second runners-up–Kat Ebner, Muncy and Rhiallie Jessell, Loyalsock: In addition to pitching so well, Ebner also helped power a solid offense, hitting .424 and compiling a .566 on-base percentage. Ebner hit two home runs and six doubles and led Muncy in nearly every offensive category, including runs (27) and RBIs (21). A slick fielder, Ebner made just one error and struck out just once. Defensively, Jessell is one of the best in District 4. It is her offense, though, that really makes her stand out. Jessell had one of the best seasons in Loyalsock history, batting .507 and driving in a district-high 40 runs. Jessell homered, belted seven doubles and had a .560 on-base percentage while earning first team HAC-III honors.
First runner–up–Alyssa Yungwirth, Wellsboro: That Yungwirth was every bit as strong offensively as she was in the circle is mighty impressive. The junior pitcher/infielder set a program-record with 38 hits, batting .500 with a .548 on-base percentage. Yungwirth hit safely in all but one game and ended the season with an area-best 19-game hitting streak. A good fielder, Yungwirth scored 22 runs, drove in 22, homered twice and collected 10 extra-base hits, helping a young team have another excellent season. A smart player with a keen eye, Yungwirth did not strike out in 2017 and has just struck out just once the past two seasons in 192 plate appearances.
And the winner is…Savanah Doney, North Penn-Liberty: She was a super pitcher, but Doney became one of the district’s most powerful hitters as well and that helps her become the first player in program history to win this honor. Doney hit .545 and also had an area-best 42 hits. The sophomore made huge strides since last season and combined power and speed. Doney hit two home runs, three triples and an area-high 12 doubles and also scored 31 runs. Doney was a force in the middle of the order, driving in 28 runs, stole 10 bases and ended the season on a 16-game hitting streak while compiling an .856 slugging percentage. She also flourished in the postseason, going 8 for 13 and helping Liberty make history.
Sun-Gazette Breakthrough Player of the Year
(a non-first team underclassman)
Second runners-up–Madi Waltman, Warrior Run and Saige Whipple, Montgomery: Both freshmen showed why their futures are so bright. Waltman hit .360 with 10 doubles, a team-high 22 RBIs and 17 runs. She also developed into a strong pitcher, going 5-4 with two saves, a 2.80 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 70 innings. Whipple is one of several promising Montgomery freshmen and put together a strong debut season. Whipple can play multiple positions and hit .355 with a .439 on-base percentage. She added 11 RBIs and six doubles.
First runner-up–Juliana Cruz, Loyalsock: Blink and defenses might miss Cruz running. The sophomore pitcher is the ideal lead-off hitter and a weapon on the bases who stole a remarkable 33 bases. Even more impressive, Cruz was never caught, seemingly looking like a sure run any time she reached base. Cruz hit .426 and compiled a .651 on-base percentage. Cruz also developed into a quality pitcher and won 10 games in her debut pitching season.
And the winner is…Jordan McCarthy, Montoursville: The Warriors had no seniors but nearly made the playoffs with young players like McCarthy making huge contributions and laying the foundation for a successful future. The freshman catcher was strong in all facets, providing good defense and preventing opponents from running much. She also was outstanding in the middle of the Warrior lineup, hitting .371 and driving in a team-high 24 runs. McCarthy’s strong season earned her first team HAC-II honors in a conference featuring Mifflinburg and Milton teams that won 38 combined games.
Other Underclassmen to watch in 2018: Sydney Bachman, South; Bella Barone, Loyalsock; Jessica Brooks, Williamsport; Kaylin Brown, Neumann; Cathryn Brought, Wellsboro; Kailee Clymer, Wellsboro; Jaylynn Cochran, Montoursville; Jade Cordrey, Hughesville; Emily Cross, Bucktail; Cheyenne Danneker, Neumann; Katie Meale, Williamsport; Riley Fry, Montgomery; Emily Hennigan, South; Taryn Lambert, Hughesville; Kassidi Lenhart, Muncy; Megan Ryder, Hughesville; Madison Shaffer, Montoursville; Emily Snyder, Milton; Makenna Snyder, Muncy; Ashleigh Southard, Cowanesque Valley; Erika Talini, Williamsport; Sydney Tremper, Wellsboro; Delaney Wagner, Lewisburg; Lauren Watson, Warrior Run.
1. Gina Beyer, IF, Warrior Run (.434, .478 obp, 36 H, 7 2B, 18 RBIs, 28 R, two eight-game hitting streaks, no strikeouts, eight errors, first team HAC-III)
2. Alyssa Yungwirth, IF, Wellsboro
3. Savanah Doney, DH, North Penn-Liberty
4. Rhiallie Jessell, C, Loyalsock
5. Cali Shields, IF, Williamsport (.397, .441 obp, 2 HRs, 5 3B, 5 2B, 15 RBIs, 12 R, season-ending eight game hit streak, just one error, first team CPL)
6. Elizabeth Haller, IF, Loyalsock (.545, .583 obp, 36 H, 2 HRs, 1 3B, 4 2B, 30 RBIs, first team HAC-III)
7. Katie Welker, OF, Loyalsock (.452, .542 obp, 14 RBIs, 11 SB [league-only stats], first team HAC-III)
8. Sammi Reeder, OF, Williamsport (.394, .446 obp, 5 2B, 10 RBIs, 19 R, hit safely in 15 of 18 games, 7 SB, no errors, first team CPL)
9. Ashley Gardner, OF, South Williamsport (.434, .508 obp, 1 3B, 4 2B, 8 RBI, 21 R, .421 risp, five SB, just two strikeouts, first team HAC-II)
Kylie Brouse, Milton; Alyssa Yungwirth, Wellsboro; Kat Ebner, Muncy; Savanah Doney, North Penn-Liberty; Alexis Schuler, South Williamsport (9-3, 2.03 ERA, 1st team HAC-III)
Madison Jean, Montoursville (7-7, 2.64 ERA, 2 SHO); Megan Herriman, Warrior Run (9-2, first team HAC-III); Mikayla Aldenderfer, Williamsport (10-6, 3.30 ERA, 106 IP, 77 Ks, 2 SHO); Myka Poorman, Bucktail (10-9, 1.96 ERA, 117 2/3 IP, 106 Ks, 1st team Mid-Penn); Montana Ohl, P, Jersey Shore (9-8, 2.47 ERA, 60 Ks); Caitlyn Brush, P, Central Mountain (11-5, 2.21 ERA, 3 SHO, first team HAC-I)
Makenna Budman, OF, Hughesville (.394, .456 obp, 2 HRs, 2 3B, 3 2B, 17 R, 14 RBIs, eight SB, first team HAC-III); Kendra Colegrove, C, Williamson (.565, .591 obp, 1 3B, 4 2B, 16 RBIs, 15 R, hit safely in 18 of 19 games, 11 multi-hit games, no strikeouts, caught 6 of 11 base stealers, topped 100 career hits); Lilly Eiswerth, OF, South Williamsport (.407, 475 obp, 1 HR, 2 3B, 5 2B, 19 RBIs, 14 R); Gabby Heiss, OF, Warrior Run (.385, .461 obp, 16 RBIs, 24 R, 8 SB, 0 Es); Katie Koch, C, Lewisburg (.526, .623 obp, 5 2B, 2 3B, 17 R, 10-game hitting streak, 1st team HAC-II); McKenna Russell, OF, Jersey Shore (.408, .982 fielding); Alexis Schuler, IF, South (.464, .531 obp, 4 3B, 6 2B, 21 RBI, 6 R, 0 Ks, 9-game hit streak); Taylor Shuman, IF, Montoursville (.389, 15 RBI, 0 Es, threw out lead runners 13 times, 1st team HAC-II); Skylar Smith, IF, Central Mountain (.368, .431 obp, HR, 6 2B, 19 RBI, 17 R, 1st team HAC-I); Sam Stopper, IF, Loyalsock (.474, .537 obp, HR, 3B, 7 2B, 23 RBI, league only stats, 1st team HAC-III); Anne Weller, IF, St. John Neumann (.512, 2 3B, 5 2B, 21 RBI, 20 R, .604 obp, 1 K, 1st team Mid-Penn)
• Maddie Beyer, IF, Warrior Run (.408, .464 obp, 14 RBIs, 24 R, 11 SB, first team HAC-III)
• Hannah Bryson, IF, Montgomery (.354, .444 obp, 1 HR, 8 2B, 2 3B, 18 RBIs, 17 R, six SB)
• Brooke Harvey, IF, Liberty (.342, .400 obp, 2 HR, 2 2B, 20 RBIs, 29 R, 13 SB, first team NTL)
• Hanna Hennigan, C, South (.391, .473 obp, 8 2B, 1 3B, 24 RBIs, .529 risp, one error)
• Madison Lee, IF, Cowanesque Valley (.474, .545 obp, 1 HR, 7 2B, 3 3B, 20 RBI, 16 R, nine multi-hit games)
• Haley Miller, C, Warrior Run (.397, .435 obp, 4 2B, 1 3B, 19 RBIs, 21 R, 10-game hitting streak, nine multi-hit games, caught all seven attempted base stealers, first team HAC-III)
• Sarah Miller, IF, Muncy (.358, .521 obp, 12 RBIs, 22 R, just one K, 22-22 SBs, .984 fielding)
• Breanna Minnier, OF, Neumann (.373, 1 2B, 19 RBIs, 9 R, first team Mid-Penn)
• Natalya Steppe, OF, South (.383, .517 obp, 3 2B, 15 RBIs, 19 R, 7 SB, .600 risp, one error)
• Emily Watts, C, Hughesville (.392, .471 obp, 1 HR, 3 3B, 7 2B, 20 RBIs, 19 R)
• Morgan Wetzel, OF, Central Mountain (.356, 8 2B, 16 RBIs, 13 R, no errors, first team HAC-I