【N.J】 Pennsbury, Conwell-Egan among teams to beat – – – New Jersey News

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With the season set to get underway Monday, it’s shaping up as another banner year for the Lower Bucks County high school softball teams.

Although it got hit hard by graduation, defending champion Pennsbury remains the team to beat in the Suburban One League’s Patriot Division.

Although you can never count out Neshaminy, the chief challenger to Pennsbury could very well be a young and talented Council Rock South squad. Also in the Patriot Division, Bensalem and Truman each have their strengths, and Council Rock North appears improved.

Armed with an excellent freshman class, look for big things from Bristol. Ditto for Conwell-Egan, which will remain one of the top teams in the Philadelphia Catholic League and a threat to make a run in state tournament play after advancing all the way to the Class 2A championship game a year ago.

Another team to keep your eye on is Villa Joe Marie. The Jems advanced to the PIAA Class 4A state semifinal last season and appear ready for another successful season.


Coach: Erin Ashley Smith.

Last year: (13-8); PIAA Class 6A District qualifier; No. 10 ranking in the area.

Roster: Ayva Knowles (Sr., OF); Camryn Pickering (Sr., OF); Destiny Howard (Sr., OF); Megan Klein (Jr., SS); Lina Sponheimer (Jr., 1B); Kayla Clarkson (Jr., P/OF); Ashyn Mertz (So., C); Adrianna Vargas (So., OF); Morgan Edwards (Fr., 2B); Abby Cornett (Fr., DP); Julia Fraioli (Fr., U); Cyanni Burke (Jr., DH); Brianna Ryan (Jr., P); Keira Seidman (Jr., U); Abby Janusz (Fr., P); Paige Schafer (So., U); Olivia Pachucki (Fr., U); Cheyenne Taylor (Jr.).

Strengths: Named to The -’s All-Area First Team last year, the speedy Klein is dynamite at the top of the order and is one of the top infielders around. She collected a school-record 43 hits last year and stole 20 bases in 21 attempts. A three-year starter, Sponheimer was a second team all-league selection and led the team in RBIs for the second year in a row. Fraioli is a quality middle infielder and Merz looks like a much improved player. Knowles was second team all-league and has committed to Wilkes University. Howard will play next year at Immaculata.

Outlook: The key to Bensalem’s season is how well it can replace all-league pitcher Maggie Formichelli. Clarkson has  potential and is among the team’s pitchers. With Klein leading the way, the Owls are sure to score their share of runs and make another run at a playoff berth.


Coach: Dave Chichilitti.

Last year: (17-4); Bicentennial Athletic League champion; District 1 Class 2A champion; No. 21 ranking in the area.

Roster: Samiyah Bell (Sr., IF); Mackensie Newcomb (Jr., OF); Mackenzie Kauffman (Jr., OF); Adrianna Habib (Jr., C); Breanna Slack (Fr., P); Grace Boyle (Fr., C/IF); Amira Belle (Fr., IF/OF); Liliana Gonzalez (Fr., IF/C).

Strengths: The biggest plus for the Warriors is a talented freshman class that includes Slack in the circle. Look for her to win a ton of games over the next four years. Another freshman to watch is Boyle, who is really more of a catcher, but will handle the shortstop position. The team has welcomed back some upperclassmen who showed they can produce last season.

Outlook: The team suffered a brutal blow with the season-ending loss of outstanding senior shortstop Taylor McClain to a knee injury. It’s because of her loss that Boyle will have to play short instead of catch. Even without McClain, however, the Warriors are going to have a very successful year with Slack’s pitching leading the way.


Coach: Sandy Hart.

Last year: (13-11); Philadelphia Catholic League playoff finalist; PIAA Class 2A state finalist; No. 14 ranking in the area.

Roster: Katey Brennan (Sr., OF); Ahlana Sesar (Sr., P); Bella Palmer (Sr., OF); Bailey McCormick (Sr., C/1B); Molly Milewski (Jr., IF); Cassidy Blaskop (Jr., OF); Lauren Bretzel (Jr., P/IF); Cecilia McBeth (So., IF).

Strengths: Headed to Seton Hall on a softball scholarship, Brennan was named the -’s All-Area Player of the Year. A great defensive center fielder, Brennan tore it up last year with a .573 average, 17 doubles, eight home runs and 42 RBIs. She was also named the PCL Player of the Year. Sesar has shown the ability to win big games and is among the returning players who have all shown they can hit. The Eagles also have a strong freshman class with 10 newcomers to the program.

Outlook: The Eagles should definitely improve on last year’s win total. A PCL championship could definitely be in the works and the team will be one of the major contenders for a Class 2A state title.


Coach: Susan Yee.

Last year: (1-18).

Roster: Molly Sheehy (Jr., C); Taylor Gearhart (Jr., SS); Sierra Klein (So., IF); Evelyn Passanante (Jr., C/1B); Francesca DeStefano (So., P); Ashlee Haywood (So., P); Ellie Bonn (Fr., OF/U); Haley Edelman (Fr., OF/U); Zoe Hardy (Fr., C/3B); Payton Helsman (Fr., C/DP); Zoe Hornstein (Fr., P); Lucy Mills (Fr., P); Alexa Pikul (Fr., OF); Kayla Ripper (Fr., OF/SS); Olivia Schlindwein (Fr., P/OF); Chelsea Seiler (Fr., IF); Maddie Seiple (Fr., 1B/DP); Scarlett Stucky (Fr., U); Katie Wilkoski (Fr., P/1B).

Strengths: Sheehy is an excellent hitter who was named first team all-league after batting with .423 with five home runs. She was also second team all-state. Gearhart was second team all-league and batted .315. Klein batted .322 and will provide the team strong defense at third base. The team does have a deep and talented freshman class.

Outlook: After graduating six starters, Rock North will be very young this year without a single senior. The team does have some promising young pitchers and position players. Rock North should be improved and will only get better as the new players gain experience.


Coach: Dan Schram.

Last year: (10-9); PIAA District 1 Class 6A playoff qualifier; No. 15 ranking in the area.

Roster: Lexi Waring (So, P/OF); Julia Scannapieco (So., P); Kallie Walters (Sr., SS); Ameerah Wheet (CF), Grace Stepp (C); Jordan Bobrin (Sr., OF/2B); Gabby Bloom (Jr., OF/C); Avery Tumolo (Jr.,1B/3B); Maddie McLean (Jr., OF); Angelina Comerford (Jr., U).

Strengths: The hard-throwing Waring won seven games a year ago while striking out 128 batters in 90 innings. She also hit .312. Scannapieco can also throw and won three games last year. Walters is a very good shortstop, who hit .316 and used her speed to steal 26 bases in 27 attempts. Wheet and Stepp both hit over .300 as well.

Outlook: Coming off a turnaround season and with the whole team back, Rock South is clearly on the rise. A return trip to the playoff should not be a problem and the team could challenge for a league title.


Coach: Tim Quense.

Last Year: (16-6); PIAA Class 6A playoff qualifier; No. 7 ranking in the area.

Roster: Rachel Allen (Sr., OF); Ryleigh Bilbrey (Sr., 3B/P); Hannah Cieszkowski (Sr., U); Lindsey Gorka (Sr., 1B/C); Liv McGrory (Sr., P/OF); Maddie Nelson (Sr., IF); Peyton Tierney (Sr., OF/SS); Zoe Shubin (Sr., 3B/OF); Grace Eppinger (Jr., P-OF);  Molly Hitchen (Jr., C); Olivia Hughes (Jr., U); Keira Loftus (Jr., OF); Morgan Volgraf (Jr., OF); Alleigh Waskie (Jr., C); Morgan Leonhaser (So., U); Maysie Thompson (So., P); Frankie Fee (So., P).

Strengths: The Redskins have a very strong group of underclassmen who will be looking to make their mark and take over the positions of a host of graduated starters. The team’s winning tradition is passed down from year to year.

Outlook: Neshaminy must replace its top pitchers, including four-year starter Kennedie Ruth. The team also lost some some productive players such as shortstop Mery Bellacima. If the pitching holds up, there’s no reason the Redskins can’t continue their winning ways.


Coach: Frank McSherry.

Last year: (24-3); Suburban One Patriot Division champion; PIAA Class 6A state semifinalist; No. 1 ranking in the area.

Roster: Laney Freiband (Sr., P); Taylor Askey (Sr., OF); Sam Raub (Jr., C); Ava Storlazzi (Jr., 2B); Pressley Foote (Jr., OF); Naya Schubel (Jr., C), Hannah DeFinis (Jr., C/IF); Anna Evanchic (Jr., 1B/P); Bella Morales (Fr., OF); Jenna Thompson (Fr., IF); Liv Czerniak (Fr., IF).

Strengths: Freiband, who has committed to Cornell University, is a hard thrower who should do just fine as she takes over for graduated ace pitcher Ainsley McClure. She and Raub are big bats in an order that is positively loaded with speed. Among the very fast table setters are Storlazzi, three-year starter Askey, Morales and Czerniak. Thompson has a nice swing and hits for power. Evanchic looks like another productive hitter.

Outlook: Look for the Falcons to play a lot of small ball and run wild on the bases. “This is one of the fastest teams I’ve ever had,” said veteran coach McSherry. “It’s all a matter of getting on base.” Expect Pennsbury to get on base a lot. With its usual strong defense to back the pitching, Pennsbury remains the favorite to capture another in a very long line of league titles.


Coach: Rick Palmer.

Last year: (7-12); No. 17 ranking in the area.

Roster: Jessica Adams (Sr., P); Ava Kilner (Sr., C); Riley Loveless (Sr., OF); Jayda Hemphil (Sr., OF); Ashley Bottrel (Jr., 1B); Emily Davis (Jr., U); Kacie Lawson (Jr., OF); Kaitlyn “Smiles” Erhard (So., 2B); Gabriella Lavertu (So., 3B); Veronica “Roni” Slaton (So., OF); Caitlyn Smith (So., OF); Charlize Deshield (So., U); Erin McClarren (Fr., SS); Jillyan Saperstein (Fr., OF/1B).

Strengths: The Tigers have returned some solid proven players. Adams is a power pitcher who has already enjoyed success in the circle. Kilner is a capable catcher and a team leader. Bottrel, Erhard, Slaton are among the other players who will contribute at the plate. McClarren and Saperstein are impact freshman players.

Outlook: Although the Tigers lost some outstanding players, there’s enough back for the team to remain very competitive. The newcomers will bolster a young and hungry team that can not be taken lightly.


Coach: Anthony Micalizzi.

Last year: (19-4); PIAA district champion, PIAA Class 4A state semifinalist; No. 5 ranking in the area.

Roster: Ava Tsiouplis (Sr., SS); Leah Pagano (Sr., P/1B); Julia Cassidy (Sr., 2B); Lindsey Rooney (So., CF); Gia Sigmund (Fr., P/1B); Kate Sonnie (Jr., 3B); Regan Welsh (Jr., LF); McKenzie Peters (Fr., C); Abbi Phillips (Jr., P/RF); Abby Kuvik (So., RF); Nicole Lenker (Jr., 1B); Devon Little (So., C); Cara Picariello (Jr., 3B); Grace Cahill (So.,1B); Bridget Veitz (So., C/1B).

Strengths: Tsiouplis is a very good player who anchors the infield at shortstop and swings a big bat. A national Player of the Week last year, Tisiouplis batted .519 with 40 hits, five homers, 24 RBIs and 16 stolen ases. Pagano’s pitching record was 11-0 with a 1.69 ERA. Welsh and the power-hitting Veitz are other proven hitters. Rooney, Phillips and Sonnie are promising newcomers who should make an impact right away.

Outlook: The Jems should remain one of the top teams in the entire area. Reaching a Class 4A state final and possibly winning it are reasonable goals.

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