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Falcon softball looks to build entire program

After working its way through a 4-16 season last spring, the Salisbury High School softball team has some talented returning players, but the Falcons’ roster is noticeably young and inexperienced at the varsity level.

Their roster has just one senior in Deora Jackson and five returning juniors, four of whom are in the starting lineup for head coach Jane Brennan.

Pitcher Beth Carney had a good season last year for Salisbury and is back as their ace again this year. In the season opener against Dieruff, she struck out nine batters and threw a no-hitter in a 21-0 win over the Huskies.

Carney whiffed another 16 batters in a 13-2 loss to Saucon Valley on Monday. Offensively, Carney is 5-for-9 (.556) with four runs, four RBI and three triples through two games.

“Beth is strong both mentally and physically and she will have to be tough because she is really the only pitcher that we have,” said Brennan. “We don’t have a lot of depth anywhere, especially at the pitching position and we hope that she can look to keep other teams off the board so we don’t have to rely too heavily on offense.”

Also back are juniors Gabby DeJesus, Taylor Jenny, Riley Knecht, and Bailee Neitz. First baseman Zaira Stokes, catcher Amelia Swoyer, second baseman Ava Grube, and third baseman Skylyn Mason are all sophomores who have cracked the starting lineup for the Falcons this season.

“It is a progression and we want to see development with the young players,” said Brennan. “I want them to see their development as well and for them to see that they are all progressing with every practice and every game. I want them to learn something from every game this season.

“We are working with them in practice and in every game, when they come off the field, when they go back on the field, after every at bat, it’s important for them to hear us and take what we are giving them and put those things into play.”

Turning around the varsity team is predicated on looking at every level in the softball program and having success throughout the program. There is a new middle school coach this season and Brennan believes that taking a systemic look at development is the key to success.

“We always say that it is not so much the team, but the program. We have pieces that we continue to build upon to make the program strong,” Brennan said.

One issue for the team is going to be playing well defensively. Against Dieruff, the Falcons (0-1 Colonial, 1-1 overall) committed one error, allowing the only baserunner of the game. In the loss to the Lady Panthers (1-0 Colonial, 1-0 overall), there were four errors, leading to 12 of the 13 runs being unearned.

The errors also contributed to the workload for Carney, causing her to throw more pitches.

On the bright side, twice against Saucon Valley, Salisbury hitters were buried 0-2 in the count and battled back to work walks in those at-bats. The young team took six walks in the game, showing some plate discipline from young players.

“The goal is to be a better team later in the year than we are now,” said Brennan. “We have to stay positive and keep working, but these girls are putting in the work, so we’re optimistic.”

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Riley Knecht scores a run during the Falcons' win over Dieruff last week.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Skylyn Mason is one of a few sophomores who have cracked the Falcons' starting line up this season.