There are a lot of questions to be answered for several local high school softball teams.
Some will get answered early, such as how will Belle Vernon and Monessen replace standout pitchers Bailey Parshall and Dana Vatakis?
For three-time WPIAL and back-to-back state champions West Greene, the question is can the Pioneers do it again? That will take a lot longer to answer.
With many other local teams that could make noise over the next couple months, here are five players to watch when the schedule opens today.
1. Kaci Alderson, Chartiers-Houston – The returning Pennsylvania High School Softball Coaches Association player of the year in Class 2A looks to do more in her junior season. Alderson batted .596 with nine doubles, 11 home runs and 35 RBI last year. The sure-fielding shortstop helped the Bucs reach the semifinals in 2018. Also returning for C-H is senior catcher Kasey Scears, who hit .507 last season.
2. Jade Renner, West Greene – A part of the dynamic West Greene lineup, Renner was clutch in the middle of the Pioneers’ lineup last season. She batted .530 with 44 hits, 14 doubles and 39 RBI. The challenge West Greene offers opponents is not being able to pitch around any one hitter with McKenna Lampe, Madison Lampe, Kaitlyn Rizor and others. She could bump up in the lineup with the graduation of her sister, Madison. Renner will be the team’s main pitcher, similar to last year’s state title run. She went 18-4 with a 2.20 ERA in 129 innings. She had 109 strikeouts.
3. Marlaina Bozek, Trinity – The smooth-fielding shortstop committed to George Mason University in November. Entering her junior season, Bozek’s range allows her to make one incredible play after another in the field, including a strong arm. Bozek will serve as a batter to be feared in the middle of the Hillers’ lineup. Last year, she hit .514 with five doubles, five triples and and three home runs. She drove in 23 runs for Trinity.
4. Rachel Elsenheimer, Waynesburg – Another all-state selection, Elsenheimer did nothing but hit the ball hard last year for the Raiders. The senior third baseman will try to have a similar season to last when 30 hits led to a .617 average. She scored 30 runs and drove in another 31. Elsenheimer had nine doubles, three triples and five home runs. She can move all around the infield for the Raiders, playing shortstop and second base.
5. Kylie Sinn, Carmichaels – Sinn put together an all-around year a season ago, resulting in all-state honors. As the Mikes’ main pitcher, Sinn had a 1.54 ERA in 109 with 123 strikeouts. She batted .453 with a pair of home runs, 28 RBI and scored 20 runs. The three-sport athlete – she also played basketball for the Mikes and soccer in a co-op with Waynesburg High School – led Carmichaels to 12 wins last year.
Staff writer Luke Campbell can be reached at email@example.com.