Tonawanda News

Local Sports

April 6, 2011

Plenty of questions remain with NT softball

— — Heading into the 2011 season there’s only one certainty for the North Tonawanda softball team, head coach Larry Lash said.

“I know who our starting catcher is,” he joked.

Senior backstop Shaina Bunker, returning All-Western New York selection and the News’ reigning Player of the Year, will lead a squad that will need to replace seven starters from last season, as well as its No. 2 pitcher.

“We’re struggling to replace those girls right now,” Lash said, noting former pitcher Allie Gibson, Caitlin Kirbis at third and Kim Garbus at second.

“We have a lot of inexperience. Our JV team was unsuccessful the last two years,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do and of all the springs to not get outside, it is not good for us at all.”

Lash said he still remains positive about the upcoming season, but knows that some of the inexperienced players are going to have to step up sooner rather than later in order for the Lady Jacks to be successful.

Though Bunker is one of five seniors, she undoubtedly has the most experience.

Caroline Fike, who started on the mound the past two seasons on JV, is slated to fulfill the No. 1 role for NT.

“We need to be using a real ball on a real diamond and find out how good she is,” Lash said of Fike. “But she’s getting there. We’re really going to need her.”

Sophomore Kelsey Ross also has some potential on the hill. Taylor March, who was expected to slide in the No. 3 role, was lost due to injury.

“Right now it’s been a struggle and we haven’t been throwing strikes like I want to, but I have a lot of positive outlook and I think we’re going to get better,” Lash said. “But we’re not better right now.”

Though the starting lineup is tentative thus far, Lash said junior Kelsey Zuch should start at either first or third base, while Fike (when not on the mound) and senior Rachel Kielaszek should vie for the starting gig at short.

Sam Harack and Andrea Scibetta are slated to be in the running for two-thirds of the outfield.

“I’m hoping that we can win a few games,” Lash said. “To be brutally honest, we need a lot of work and we need for players to treat every practice seriously in our attempts to get better. We have a lot of athletes, but not a lot of softball players. Fortunately, athletes can be taught to become good softball players.”

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