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Softball looks to develop ‘heart of a champion’

Like most high school sports programs, this year’s Salisbury softball team must make up for the graduation of some key players from last year’s team. At the same time, the Falcons will return five starters from last season, including two at the position that can allow a softball team to dominate opponents.

The Falcons graduated starters Krystal Aungst, who is playing at Lehigh Carbon Community College this season, along with classmates Julia Graver, Katherine Lovelidge and Kayla Trenge.

First-year Salisbury head coach Jane Brennan takes over for Jeff Appleman, who stepped down after last season.

“I have taken over the program along with my assistant coach, Mike Silberman, and volunteer coach Melissa Knecht,” said Brennan. “We are all excited to see what the season holds and the girls are ready, willing, and extremely capable to take on all challengers.”

Brennan’s team will feature two returning pitchers in sophomore Beth Carney and senior Abigail Lipkin, who missed last season with an injury. Carney, a right-hander, and Lipkin, a left-hander, will share time on the mound in hopes of keeping opposing line ups off balance.

Several of last year’s top hitters return this season, including senior catcher Marcie Silberman, who had 25 hits last season and has 52 for her career, which becomes more impressive when one considers this year’s seniors had this sophomore seasons canceled in 2022.

Other top hitters coming back this year are senior third baseman Sam Peffer (17 hits last year), sophomore second baseman Bailee Neitz (14 hits last year), junior short stop Haylee Silberman (9 hits last year), sophomore outfielder Taylor Jenny (5 hits last year), sophomore center fielder Riley Knecht, Lipkin, who will also play first base, and Carney, who had 17 hits in her freshman season and can play infield or outfield when not on the mound.

The Falcons went 7-12 last season and 5-11 in Colonial League play. They were awarded a spot in the District 11 Class 3A playoffs where they lost to No. 2 seed North Schuylkill in the first round.

While a couple spots need to be filled by first-time varsity starters, the Falcons have enough returning talent and experience to build on last year’s campaign.

“Their strengths are found on and off the diamond,” Brennan said of her players. “There is the athletic ability, game sense, and the willingness to learn and be coached which goes a long way.

“I am so fortunate to be alongside a group of players that truly love and are committed to the game.”

She wants her team to remain confident when adversity sets in.

“Being able to mentally recover after an error, strikeout, or wild pitch takes time and fortitude,” she said.

While winning games and reaching the postseason are part of every team’s list of goals, the Falcons also develop team and individual goals that have little to do with outcomes on the field and very much to do with how players comport themselves on and off the field.

“We use a program called ‘Heart of a Champion Character Award,’” Brennan said. “We revisit these and award a player a week that shows us these character traits.”

The guiding principle for the Heart of a Champion Character Award is that physical training and knowledge have some value, but character has value and is profitable for all things and having a promise for now and for the future.

Salisbury opened the season Friday, March 25 with a 15-run rule win over Dieruff. Carney had a pair of triples while allowing just two hits over four innings. The Falcons had 12 hits in the win and committed no errors while benefiting from six Husky miscues.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Marcie Silberman had 25 hits last season for the Salisbury softball team.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Beth Carney allowed just two hits in the Falcons' season-opening win. She also hit a pair of triples in the game.