Weekly Feature



2018-04-11 / Sports

Potential for success evident on softball roster

by JASON NADOLINSKI
Reporter


Returning junior outfielder Haley Marlowe, right, will once again feature prominently in the Clarence softball team’s game plan after collecting 21 hits — including a team-best seven doubles — and 15 RBIs last spring. 
File photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Returning junior outfielder Haley Marlowe, right, will once again feature prominently in the Clarence softball team’s game plan after collecting 21 hits — including a team-best seven doubles — and 15 RBIs last spring. File photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Clarence softball coach Todd Banaszak admits that his team is trending toward the younger end of the experience scale this spring, but that’s not stopping him or the Lady Red Devils from aspiring to achieve big things once they get outside on a consistent basis.

Even after losing nine players off a squad that finished 9-8 overall in 2017, Clarence is looking to more than hold its own in the always competitive ECIC I thanks to a solid infusion of veteran experience that should help bring along the Lady Red Devils’ younger players during the early stages of the 2018 campaign.

“We’re kind of young in some important positions – like catcher, pitcher, shortstop, and first and third bases – so hopefully we can be in games this season and be able to make the plays we need to make to find ways to win,” Banaszak said. “The good thing is that they’ve been focused and looked really good coming out of the gym right from the first time. The girls have really bonded well to where you can see they’re all good teammates with one another, which is important. No one’s worried about their individual stats.”

Leading the way for the Lady Red Devils this spring will be third-year varsity outfielders Haley Czerwinski, a senior, and Haley Marlowe, a junior. Both players will be at the top of the batting order for the Lady Red Devils after registering solid campaigns last spring: Czerwinski, who played in 10 games last season, compiled a .524 average with 11 total hits, five RBIs and five steals, while Marlowe hit .404 with 21 total hits, a team-best seven doubles, and 15 RBIs.

Senior second baseman Mariah Bly, who was an ECIC I Second Team all-star shortstop last season, will serve as the squad’s leadoff hitter this spring. Bly hit .328 last year with 20 total hits that included four doubles and four triples. She also drove in 11 runs and scored a team-best 19 runs herself, while also collecting three stolen bases.

Another senior, team captain Abigail Doherty, will move into the starting catcher’s role after serving as the backup last year. Banaszak noted that Doherty “has a good arm, blocks the ball well, has really improved her hitting and is just a smart player.”

The team’s top pitcher, whom Banaszak said “looked really good” and was “really effective in hitting her spots” during the team’s scrimmages with Grand Island and Williamsville East, will be returning sophomore Leah Victor. The only hurler on the roster with varsity innings under her belt, Victor – who was also one of the team’s leading hitters last spring – posted a 2-0 record, striking out 10 while allowing just six hits and seven walks in 12 innings of work. Nearly three of every four pitches she threw last season went for strikes. At the plate, Victor hit .308 with 16 hits, seven RBIs, three steals and 13 runs scored.

Rounding out the roster this season are returning seniors Rachel Prynn (outfield/third base), Ashlyn Kipp (outfield) and Kennedy Oleszak (first base), first-year senior Ari Carey (third base/outfield), first-year juniors Theresa Bienko (shortstop), Haley Swetz (third base), Allie Klonowski (outfield/ first base), Maria Bienko (outfield), Morgan Berndt (outfield) and Hannah Muehlbauer (outfield/pitcher), and first-year freshman Julianne Bolton (pitcher/first base).

“I think our pitching is shaping up to be pretty nice this year, and the girls are making some nice contact with the ball at the plate when we work on our hitting,” Banaszak said. “In both our scrimmages, we did a good job at the plate and both of the pitchers we used looked sharp while hitting their spots. We’re honestly kind of untested in the circle a bit, but they were both very effective and both looking good to this point of the season.”

Weather permitting, Clarence is slated to kick off regular-season play Thursday at Williamsville North before closing out the week against Frontier the next night. The Lady Red Devils will then resume play in short order by traveling to Orchard Park on Monday and Williamsville East on Tuesday.

“We just need to limit our strikeouts at the plate and make the plays we should be making on defense,” Banaszak said of his squad’s best chance at achieving success. “We’ve been in the gym for a long time now, even with having turf, so we’re excited about the prospect of just getting outside and starting to play on a regular basis.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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