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Softball team seeks hardware

This year’s Northwestern softball team will have a couple key players to replace, but with a core of senior leadership and new starters at a few positions, the team will look to build on last year’s winning season.

The Tigers had two super players graduate last spring. All-league pitcher Lydia Danner has departed. Danner was the team’s ace and was its leadoff hitter. Northwestern will also miss the presence and leadership of Claire O’Dea up the middle at shortstop. Both were integral parts in leading the Tigers to a 13-10 overall record and a District 11 semifinal appearance.

Emily Akelatis is penciled in to take over as a primary starting pitcher for the Tigers and with several players returning the team is expecting to make some noise this postseason.

“We want hardware around our necks at the end of the season,” said Northwestern coach Josh Zimmernan. “We have the team to do it. We just have to win the games we are supposed to on paper, and win a few of those where maybe we aren’t favored.”

The Tigers will bring back seniors Brook Wehr, Avery George and Jess Badman. Wehr was an all-league catcher, hitting .421 and leading the team in both home runs (six) and RBIs (33).

“We’ve been trying to put the girls in pressure situations during practice,” said coach Zimmerman. “We’ve struggled in close games against big time opponents. It has nothing to do with ability. We know they have it. It has to do with mental toughness, and wanting to be in that situation when the game is on the line.”

The Tigers will have a plethora of newcomers that will have to contribute. Be on the lookout for Anna Akelatis (Fr.), Emily Akelatis (So.), Ashley Sisco (So.), Kayla Mitman (Jr.), Natalie Smith (Jr.), Cassidy Lentz (Jr.), and McKayla Wildrick (Jr.).

“I think these girls are hungry,” Zimmerman said. “Some of these juniors have been waiting in the wings for their opportunity, and their enthusiasm is evident in the way they conduct themselves at practice.”

PRESS FILE PHOTOAll-Colonial League catcher Brooke Wehr returns for her senior season on the Tiger softball team.