By Dave Ricci
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The Kenmore West softball program needed to find a way to get over the hump last season.
And that’s exactly what the Lady Blue Devils did when they defeated Frontier in the pre-quarterfinals of the Section VI Class AA playoffs.
After several deep playoff runs the Blue Devils experienced early exits, including a painful loss to Orchard Park on their own diamond two seasons ago. Though the Blue Devils lost to eventual state champion Clarence in the quarterfinals, that win over Frontier helped Ken West reclaim some of its sectional swagger.
”We went through a few years where, although we won the league consistently we didn’t do anything in sectionals,” coach Matt Chimera said. “When we beat Frontier I think that was a big turn the corner type of game for us.”
The Blue Devils return the bulk of the 2012 team that is focused on making a deeper run.
”I think it definitely sets the tone this year of where we want to go,” senior Shelby Donhauser said of the win over Frontier. “Because we got there last year I think we can make it even farther this year.”
Leading the way will be senior shortstop Marylouise Lindner and the 1-2 punch in the pitching circle of Donhauser and junior Charlotte Miller.
Miller has made incredible strides in her approach since last year. Always the perfectionist, Miller, who throws harder than any other girl in the NFL, would sometimes over think herself into tough situations when her pitches didn’t hit the exact spot. Miller now knows that her throws don’t always have to be spot on to be effective.
Donhauser, meanwhile, as solid as she was in the circle, was without question the Blue Devils’ most consistent hitter.
”She hit over .500 last year and that was a legitimate over .500,” said Chimera. “I’d have to look at the stats because she hit at least a dozen doubles. At least a dozen doubles. So she hit a lot of gap balls and we’re really hoping she can do it again this year. And Charlotte came through for us with a lot of big hits last year and hit the ball hard.”
The Blue Devils should also be solid defensively. Not only do they have Miller and Donhauser alternating at pitcher and first base again, they also return second baseman Hannah Post who had a breakout 2012.
Adriana King takes over third base full time while sophomore Brianna Christopher steps behind the plate and adds the presence of a power hitter to the middle of the batting order.
Speed remains a trademark of the Blue Devils outfield, as Leah Moretta, Ashley Campanella, Bridget Gormley, Sarah Caputi and Lauren Pray give the Blue Devils perhaps the quickest outfield in Western New York. Lina Mirabella will also catch and play outfield.
”I think Bridget Gormley will move to center and she’s probably one of the fastest outfielders we’ve ever had,” Chimera said.
Moretta will likely shift from right to left field while Pray, Caputi and Campanella battle it out for right.