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Plenty of optimism for Muncy after Wednesday’s loss in softball

Half the Muncy players who competed Wednesday against Wellsboro have not yet played a high school softball game. And yet they gave a perennial title contender featuring several multiple-year starters all it could handle.

Just imagine what these young players might do once normalcy returns and they can get into the high school routine. Muncy has enjoyed consecutive outstanding junior high seasons and now has a group poised to make an impact on the big stage.

That showed at Elm Park when Muncy lost, 1-0, in six innings against Wellsboro. Muncy started mostly players who were in eighth and ninth grade last spring and had the tying run at third base with one out in the sixth inning. Sophomore-to-be Izzy Gush and incoming freshman Nolah Moyer struck out 14 and, despite missing three projected 2020 starters, Muncy was a timely hit from tying or possibly winning the game.

No wonder optimism is running high.

“We have a little work to do yet, but our infield and batting should be pretty stout once we get everyone together,” Muncy coach Joe Tedesco said. “Everything is going really well. I think Muncy can have a shining year next year.”

Muncy made big strides during the 2019 campaign, surging down the stretch and reaching the District 4 Class AA playoffs. Players like Rory Oden, Lily Frederick, Leia Eisenhower, Nicollete Johnson, Alexis Treese and Lauren Harner-Steele all enjoyed quality seasons and will be back next year.

That experience and the promise of the younger players could make for quite a combination. Casey Fry, Taylor Shannon, Kelcie Wert, Leah Vest, Novah Swank and Kaylyn Rice played well against Wellsboro and Muncy could have a nice blend of speed, power, defense, pitching and depth.

And while losing the 2020 season to the COVID-19 pandemic hurt from a development standpoint, Muncy has played well in the Elm Park Town League and is gaining confidence. It might not be a high school season, but Muncy is earning valuable experience against high school-level teams and that could smooth the transition next spring.

“It’s going to give them confidence because we’re playing against teams we would see during the season and they are playing well against them and having fun and relaxing,” Tedesco said. “We tell them all the time, it’s a game, enjoy it and have fun and when they do that, they play really well.”

Gush and Moyer certainly pitched well against Wellsboro. Gush, a right-hander allowed no earned runs in four innings while striking out eight. Moyer, a lefty, struck out six in three innings and each pitcher fanned two hitters in every inning.

Both young pitchers have good velocity and also move the ball well. Muncy had to lean on Oden its two previous seasons and she struck out 91 as a sophomore in 2019. Now, though, Tedesco can play matchups, give opponents different in-game looks and keep arms fresh, with Eisenhower also providing added depth.

Pitching often is the foundation successful teams are built upon and Muncy’s foundation appears particularly strong.

“That effects kids when you have pitchers throwing from different sides,” Tedesco said. “You see a righty pitching and then you throw a lefty in there and it can disrupt them. They both throw well as do Rory and Leia. We’re pitching deep.”

Nothing is guaranteed, especially in these uncertain times. Muncy certainly knows it must earn any future success, but this is a group that appears eager to pay that price.

Muncy is having fun this summer, but the most enjoyable times appear on the horizon. The fun might just be starting.

“This team seems to be the kind of team that just relaxes and has fun so I think we could really be something in another year or two,” Tedesco said. “The girls get along really well and we’re excited.”

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