Warren softball begins quest for D-10 title
The Warren Area High School softball team had a brilliant regular season, going 13-4 and capturing the Region 6 title.
They want more, however. Much more.
A loss to Grove City in the 2017 quarterfinals still stings for a group that returns seven starters from that team.
They are now a year older, a year wiser and ready to take aim at their goal of a District 10 championship, beginning today when they take on Conneaut at noon at Allegheny College (weather permitting).
“This is a group I believe in and a group that should believe in themselves,” said Warren coach Jon Sitler. “They have been playing together their entire lives and I hope they just go out and be themselves. They have put so much time and work in and should be confident in their game. I want them to enjoy the journey.”
The Lady Dragons start five juniors, two sophomores and two freshman, but don’t call them young. They have a lot of big-game experience and many have been playing together for a long time, as Sitler alluded to.
Junior Ellie Lobdell has been a star on the mound, and has continued to get better after a strong sophomore season.
She sports a microscopic 0.89 ERA and has struck out 160 in 94 innings pitched. She has formed a great battery with sophomore catcher Grace Wortman, who made a seamless transition from the outfield, where she played last season.
It’s a team that features four players, juniors Celia Chase and Kiersten Hoffman, sophomore Lex Nyquist and freshman Jordan Sitler, who are all batting over .400, while junior speedster Gracie Wood checks in at .345 (Wood also leads the team in triples with four). Freshman Kelsey Stuart has also hit the ball very well at the top of the lineup, showing the ability to both put down a bunt or find a gap.
Junior Julia Lobdell has been a cornerstone defensively at second base, and also handles the bat very well in hitting over .300.
It’s a lineup that is capable of beating opponents from any spot in the order.
Chase leads in batting average (.493) and RBI (30) and Nyquist in runs scored (24).
Chase, Ellie Lobdell and Hoffman are tied for the team lead in home runs with four each.
They will be facing a Conneaut team that comes in with a record of 9-8. The Eagles have averaged 7.4 runs per game and have allowed 6.1 runs per game.
They are led by pitcher Ally Welcheck, as well as Kiersten Shrock, a slick-fielding shortstop.
“Region 5 has proven capable in the playoffs year after year, and we are expecting a team that is playoff-ready,” said Sitler. “We just have to go back to the beginning, and play with attitude and effort from inning one through inning seven. Let the chips fall where they may. If we play with energy, cheer with energy, then we are controlling what we can control.
“I’m proud of this year’s team,” said Sitler. “Now that we are in the playoffs, I want them to let it loose and just play.
“We have been focusing for several weeks on minor tweaks — infield depth, outfield depth, baserunning, bunting. If we put the little things together with the big things, we will play our game.”