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Coach Shofestall Shares 2019 Lady Cat Softball Season Summary (06/19/19)

(Photos by Kim Constantino) above: Lady Cats Second Place District Nine, Class-A, PIAA State Quarterfinalists

Clarion Area Lady Cats Coach Dan Shofestall shares this summary on the squad’s great 2019 season:

The Clarion Bobcats Softball Team recently ended it’s season, with a 5-4 loss to West Greene, in the PIAA Class A Quarterfinals State Playoffs. The game was played at Slippery Rock University.

The Lady Cats were runners up in the District 9 playoffs. The team’s final record was 18-6.

Throughout the season, the team had many fun filled moments and also some heartbreaking ones as well. They had two tough losses, where they needed only one more out for the win, but they were rewarded with two walk off wins of their own, because they never gave up on the season or each other.

Lady Cats headed to the bus during big playoff send-off at the school .

The season started with a scrimmage on a cold, blustery, 15 degree day in March, against Dubois Central Catholic. The team practiced and played on many chilly nights and on rain soaked muddy fields. They waited out a 4 1/2 hour thunderstorm to play the D9 final against DCC. It was a tough 7-2 loss, for sure, in the D9 final, but the Lady Bobcats rebounded with a 4-0 win over Otto-Eldred to earn the true runner up and qualify for the state playoffs.

The team then went on to beat the District 10 Champion, Commodore Perry 8-0 in the first round of the State playoffs before their showdown with West Greene.

The Pioneers came into the game as the defending, two-time Pennsylvania State Champions and breezed through most of its competition throughout the season. The game was tight and scoreless until West Greene put five runs on the scoreboard in the fifth inning. The score remained the same until the bottom of the seventh inning. Down 5-0, the Bobcats came out fighting and clawing, to put four runs on the board, to close the gap to 5-4 with the tying run on first when the game ended….and even though we came up a little short in their last game, it was still a season of many successes in a lot of ways.

Some of the Lady Cats fans who were at the PIAA quarterfinal game, to cheer them on.

Between that cold, blustery, 15 degree day in March to the final out recorded on a warm day at Slippery Rock University Field, the Clarion Softball Team was a TEAM that earned the pride and respect of a lot of people.

From day one, they came in and worked hard for the betterment of the team. They helped each other out, even though they were competing against each other for positions and playing time.

At the beginning of the season, we were year a long way from earning a spot in the playoffs, but the team had a positive working attitude that would serve them well as the season unfolded.

The season presented many challenges for the team. But the challenges we faced and overcame were what made us stronger and helped us mature and grow as a team.

Without a doubt, we had the toughest most competitive schedule in the history of our softball program, but the team never blinked an eye and attacked the schedule with great belief each game.

On the schedule were two quad A teams, three triple A teams, and seven double A teams. Ten teams on the schedule made the playoffs. They also played three District Champions, last years quad A State Champion, the two time defending single A champion and this years single A Pennsylvania State Runner-up.

Out of the six games we lost, five of them were by a combined 9 runs and 4 games by a single run.

Clarion players and coaches praying after final game.

The team had 11 players on the roster and due to injuries and so forth, played most games with only 9 or 10 players, with everyone contributing to the team in so many ways.

The team was made up of two seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and five freshman.

    Carly Best and Lindsey Kemmer were our senior team captains and 4 year letter winners. Both players ended their Bobcat careers with outstanding seasons.

Carly played second base for us and was one of the “VOICES” on our team that we all looked to. She showed good leadership throughout the season. She was an outstanding bunter, who could also swing the bat with authority and was in the middle of a lot of our big innings offensively. Carly was a slick fielding second baseman, who was very good on field communicating skills. Carly was a 2nd Team All-KSAC Infielder. She was also the winner of the prestigious Alan Peterson Academic Achievement Award.

Carly at the plate

Lindsey played first base for us and got stronger and stronger as the season wore on. She played the best Softball of her career her senior year. Lindsey had a lot of clutch hits for her team this year, but none bigger than her walk-off game winning hit, against Cranberry, in the 9th inning, securing a 9-8 win. She also contributed with her glove, as well, making big defensive plays and delivering super bunt coverage. Both Carly and Lindsey will be missed as they move onto college and we wish them the best.

Lindsey smacks game winning single against Cranberry.

Kaitlyn Constantino and Tori Vega were our two juniors, this year and were key contributors to the team. Kaitlyn took over the pitching duties, this year and had an outstanding season. Her eye-popping 245 strikeouts set a new school Bobcat record. Her command of the strike zone and her maturing in the pitcher’s circle were big keys to her overall improvement and performance. Offensively, Kaitlyn was the team’s lead-off hitter and hit the ball well, leading the team in a number of categories. Kaitlyn was a 1st Team All-KSAC Pitcher.

Kait delivering a pitch in quarterfinal game

Tori improved greatly from her sophomore to junior seasons, as she took over the third base duties for the team. She played very well at the hot corner and was very good at bunt coverage and charging the bunt. Defensively, she made a lot of big plays for the team this year and was named 3rd Team All-KSAC Infielder. Tori also had a fine year with the bat and had some big hits along the way, while hitting with more power and some timely RBIs for the team.

Tori at the plate in an early season game

Kaitlyn and Tori will be asked to take on a bigger leadership role, entering their senior seasons, as the team looks to the 2020 season.

Entering the second season with the team, sophomores Brenna Campbell and Ava Kiser both played huge roles with the Lady Cats’ success.

Brenna was asked to play a new position at shortstop this year. And she took the new role very seriously and worked hard at learning the new position. Her hard work payed off, as she got better and better at short as the season progressed. Coming down the stretch run, Brenna’s defensive play was huge and helped solidify out team defense. She was at her best in the playoffs, making many fine plays. Brenna hit in the number three spot in the lineup this year and was one of our top contact hitters. She could hit for power, but also had a great eye at the plate? She took many opposing pitchers deep in the count, while drawing a lot of walks. She delivered a lot of big hits for the team this year.

Brenna congratulated by third base coach Matt Best, as she rounds the base on her home run against Commodore Perry

Ava provided great value to the team, as a utility player we could use in a variety of defensive positions. She has a good arm and made a lot of good defensive plays throughout the season. We played her in the outfield. third base and shortstop this year. Defensively, Ava really improved this year, but where she probably improved the most was with her bat. She worked very hard at her hitting and after a slow start, she really started to hit. Coming down the stretch drive of our season, Ava had some really crucial hits in big games, including the playoffs, that really helped the team and gave us a big boost.

Ava hitting double to score Noel.

As Brenna and Ava move into their junior seasons, they will also be asked and expected to take on bigger leadership roles on team.

With only six players returning on this year’s team, we knew that our freshman would have to come in and step up and learn our system quickly, if we were going to have the type of team we all aspired to be. And step up they did in a big way. With only a few weeks to put the team together and get it Varsity ready for a competitive schedule, we had a group of freshman come in and become the all important, final pieces we needed to put our 2019 team together.

Our five freshman were Mackenzie Aaron, Noel Anthony, Kylee Beers, Jordan Best and Payton Simko.

Mackenzie came in and became one of our hardest workers in practice. She listens to everything the coaches tell her and then practices at it with a determined effort. Her arm and throwing skills improved daily. She played the outfield position and hustled to back up balls all over the field. She also took her hitting very seriously, whether hitting off the tee, machine or live toss. She always gave 100%. Mackenzie was also someone you could hear cheering her teammates on, in the dugout, or on the field.

Mackenzie with her first hit of the season against Clarion-Limestone

Noel was our right fielder this year and what a year she had at that position. Noel was also a good hard worker and listener, who put to use every bit of advice or knowledge the coaches would give her. Her foot work and communication skills got better and better, during the season and she made some all important defensive plays for the team this year. Hitting wise, Noel’s bat started to become more and more of a factor for the team, as the year progressed. She showed some power at times and is a very good aggressive base runner. She also worked as one of our back-up pitchers.

Noel snagging a fly

Kylee started the season competing for a position on the team and worked very hard at it. Unfortunately, Kylee suffered an injury that sidelined her for most of the season. Even with the injury, Kylee came in and helped the team in a variety of ways. She made most practices and charted the pitcher and opposing hitters during games, which was a very big help to the team. Kylee did get some playing time, towards the end of the year and had some big hits. We’re hoping the off season will help in Kylee’s recovery and are looking forward to her being ready to go, next season.

Kylee catching a fly in the outfield

Jordan took over the catching duties this year and excelled both offensively and defensively. Behind the plate, she did a stellar job of glove placement and keeping the ball in front of her. She has a good arm and not many base runners tried to steal on her. She did an outstanding job of working with Kaitlyn and forming the best battery (catcher/pitcher) in the KSAC. She was a 3rdTeam All-KSAC catcher. Jordan also hit cleanup for the team this year and led the team in extra base hits. She could hit for power, bunt the ball or take a walk. Her 14 walks led the team. Jordan was also a very good and aggressive base runner.

Jordan evades the tag to score a run against Commodore Perry

Payton anchored our defense in center field. Defensively, we like to build strength up the middle and we felt we had that with Payton. She made a lot of big catches for us this year and worked hard at the center field position. She also backed up at shortstop some and played well when called upon. Payton was also one of our backup pitchers this year and the coaching staff is very pleased with the improvement she made throughout the season. She worked very hard at it and and did well when she pitched, earning her first varsity win. Payton also showed good pop with bat and had a lot of big hits this season.

Payton catching a fly ball for an out in the PIAA quarterfinal game

Our five freshman will continue to improve next year if they come in and work as hard as they did this year.

2019 was a fun and exciting year for the team and one that we will always remember.

I would like to thank my coaching staff and their spouses for all of the time and dedication they have they have given to me and this team. It is greatly appreciated.

Randy Reynolds: Assistant Coach and Chief Grounds Crewman.

John Stroup: Volunteer Assistant Coach

Dave Constantino: Volunteer Assistant Coach

Kaitlyn Wenner: Volunteer Assistant Coach

Matt Best: Volunteer Assistant Coach

Also the Clarion Bobcat Softball Team would like to thank the following people who have all contributed to our 2019 season.

Jeff Rudesyle: Game Changer

Jim Campbell: Scout team

The Best’s, Campbell’s, Constantino’s: for hosting team dinners.

Kim Constantino: Team Photographer

Ryan Wiser: for being the team’s #1 fan.

Melanie Best and Jaunice Vega and the Clarion Softball Boosters Club: for all of your help and what you have done organizing the team picnic and banquet, senior night, game day snacks, team breakfast and meals and everything else you do for the girls coaches and the team.

To the Parents and grand parents: THANK YOU SO MUCH TO THE SUPPORT YOU GIVE TO OUR TEAM AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE GREAT JOB YOU HAVE DONE IN TEACHING AND INSTILLING THE GREATEST OF VALUES YOUR DAUGHTERS SHOW EVERY NIGHT THEY STEP ON THE FIELD. WE SEE IT EVERY NIGHT AT PRACTICE AND ON THE FIELD ON GAME DAY.

Nancy Mills-Athletic Director: Thank you Nancy for all you do behind the scenes to help make sure everything runs as smooth as possible for us throughout the season. You have been a tremendous help to us all.

Rich Heron: Thanks for looking after us and tending to our bumps and bruises Rich.

The Clarion School Administration: Dr. Joe Carrico, Mr. John Kimmel, our teachers and all involved in helping organize the school send-off and promoting school spirit by getting the band and student body involved to send us off to playoff games. Also for organizing the fan bus to our games.

Mr. Curry and the Clarion BOBCATS BAND: You guys sounded great and we thank you so much.

To the Clarion Student Body: who cheered us on in the team send-off and to all of the fans who traveled to Slippery Rock University to cheer us on. We knew you were there because we could hear you. It meant so much to us to have your support.

School Maintenance-Mike Fagley, Tim Musser and Smitty: for lining our field on game day.

To the Baseball, Track and Girls Basketball teams: Thanks for your help on sharing the gyms on practice days.

The Clarion Little League

The Clarion Borough maintenance staff.

The Clarion Sports Zone

The Clarion News

D9 Sports

The Oil City Derrick

DuBois Tri-County

And to the fans and all others who supported us this year.

Thank you and see you at the field in 2020.

(Congratulations to Coach Shofestall, the Lady Cats Softball Team, coaches, staff, parents and all involved with this unforgettable season!!!!)

(Thanks to Coach Shofestall for this summary and to Kim Constantino for the photos!!!! It is amazing the way Kim provides photos to Clarion Sports Zone and other area media!!!!)