Apollo-Ridge softball expects offense to produce

Friday, March 6, 2020 | 4:16 PM

Expect to hear the crack of the bat a lot when watching Apollo-Ridge’s softball team.

The Vikings bring back seven starters from last season and are eager to put up some runs.

“We’re returning a lot of girls and we have a decent grasp of what we need to do,” Apollo-Ridge coach John Kinnamon said. “We still have to get some reps. Gyms have limitations, but we’ve been hitting the ball and getting to know each other again.”

The preseason work in batting cages has encouraged Kinnamon.

“What we’ve seen, clearly, just being inside is that we’re going to hit the ball hard this year. We hit the ball hard last year and our numbers were up across the board,” he said. “I think we might be ahead of where we finished last year. We’re going to score a lot of runs. It’s fun waving them around third base. I have the best seat in the house. It’s just a matter of if we can keep runs off the board.”

That puts a big emphasis on the pitching circle, where the team must find a replacement for Mollie Charlton, a four-year all-section nominee at pitcher. Junior Morgan Shupe, senior Raven Murray and freshman Arial Earnest could all twirl innings.

“We’ll be here trying to fill the void of a girl who leads every pitching category in Apollo-Ridge history,” Kinnamon said. “All three will see time and it’ll be based by performance. We’ll see how they do. You can’t follow a script.”

Apollo-Ridge has a new catcher, too. Senior Kylee Wynn moved back behind the plate after playing second base last season.

“She played catcher as a sophomore, so it’s nice she has some experience,” Kinnamon said.

Junior Addie Baustert returns at first base. Senior Emma Rametta moves from center field to second base. Senior Destinee Bowman is back at third base. Sophomore Bailey Zidek anchors the infield at shortstop.

“Bailey is our rock at shortstop. She is going to be special,” Kinnamon said. “She is one of the girls who plays a lot in the summer. So, she has to be better than she was last year, and she was pretty special last year.”

The outfield lineup is still up for grabs. When not pitching, Shupe will play there. Senior Brittany Haugh, Amber Earnest and April Earnest could all see time as well.

The Vikings finished third in Section 2-2A with an 8-4 mark. They wound up 9-5 overall after an 8-2 loss to Frazier, which won a state championship, in the WPIAL playoffs.

“We’ve been waiting for them to take that next step. That step is finally winning a playoff game,” Kinnamon said. “You ask anyone who was there for our game against Frazier, and they’ll tell you we had our shots. We had them calling timeouts to regroup. We’re getting close.”

Apollo-Ridge, which has been to the WPIAL playoffs the past three seasons, hopes to get the program’s first WPIAL tournament win this spring.

“We set a standard to be a playoff team,” Kinnamon said. “That’s where we want to be headed again.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.


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