East Xtra: Season was a picnic for Greensburg Salem softball team

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Greensburg Salem softball coach Jody Morgan may change the date of the Golden Lions' annual picnic.

"We hold a picnic at Newhouse Park in Delmont instead of a banquet," Morgan said. "It's a really nice community park with a covered pavilion. We always schedule the picnic for the week after Memorial Day."

Morgan and her booster club chose May 31 for this year's banquet.

"The big difference with this year's picnic is that we were still playing," Morgan said.

The day before the picnic, Greensburg Salem faced Belle Vernon Area in the WPIAL Class AAA consolation game for third place. The Golden Lions recorded a 1-0 victory to earn their first PIAA berth.

"It was pretty neat to have the picnic before we finished the season," Morgan said. "It was great to talk about the win over Belle Vernon and our first trip to the state tournament."

Greensburg Salem's first PIAA appearance had mixed results. The Golden Lions posted a 16-0 victory against City League representative Carrick in the first round, then dropped a 4-1 decision to WPIAL champion Montour in the quarterfinals.

"I reminded my kids that we finished among the top four teams in the Western half of the state in Class AAA," Morgan said. "That's a great accomplishment."

Morgan also pointed out that Greensburg Salem went further in the state tournament than any team in Westmoreland County, including two of its neighboring rivals.

"Greensburg Central [Catholic] and Hempfield lost in the first round," Morgan said. "We made it to the quarterfinals. That's something we're very proud of."

Greensburg Salem finished the season with a 17-4 record.

"We had a great run and made some school history," said Morgan, who completed her 34th season at the helm. "We're looking forward to improving on that success next year."

That's a strong possibility because the Golden Lions must replace just four starters who graduated.

"We lose all three outfielders and a first baseman," Morgan said. "But the main cogs of our team are coming back."

Left fielder Alex Garsteck, center fielder Alyssa Mellinger, and right fielder Sara Stiffey are the three outfielders. Garsteck had a .575 batting average, three home runs, three doubles and two triples. Mellinger had a .500 average and did not commit an error in the outfield.

Stiffey was the Golden Lions "flex" player. She played the field, but usually didn't bat.

Megan Sandberg was Greensburg Salem's first baseman during the regular season, but a fractured finger kept her from participating in the playoffs.

"Replacing the entire outfield might be a bit of a challenge, but fortunately our pitcher and catcher are back," Morgan said. "Those are the two most important positions in softball."

Morgan is referring to pitcher Jayne Oberdorf and catcher Taylor Mehan, a pair of juniors. Oberdorf posted a 15-4 mark and recorded 194 strikeouts, while walking only 23 batters. She also had a .480 batting average and hit three home runs.

Mehan led the Golden Lions with a .596 average, seven home runs, including two grand slams, six triples and 27 RBIs. And she committed only two errors all season.

"Jayne and Taylor are once-in-a-lifetime players," Morgan said. "It's great to have both coming back next year."

Morgan also has experienced players returning at all four infield positions. Freshman shortstop Claire Oberdorf, sophomore second baseman Kelly Hutchinson and sophomore third baseman Melissa Wagner were regular starters. Junior first baseman Sydney Bacha took over for Sandberg in the playoffs and did a fine job.

Claire Oberdorf, Jayne's younger sister, had a .520 average, two home runs and five triples in her varsity debut season. Hutchinson had a .450 average and five triples. Wagner had a .395 average. Bacha had a .395 average in the playoffs.

"Our offensive stats have been amazing all year," Morgan said. "We combined to hit 19 home runs this season, and all but one starter hit at least one homer."

Also returning is sophomore Madison Hantz, who served as Morgan's designated player. She had a .380 average.

With so much talent coming back, Morgan is considering a change to the annual team picnic so as not to conflict with any postseason games.

"The first thing on the agenda for our March boosters club meeting will be to change the date of our picnic to the middle of June," Morgan said.

hsbaseball

First Published June 14, 2012 12:00 AM


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