Deer Lakes softball reflects on impressive season

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Sunday, June 12, 2022 | 4:49 PM


Deer Lakes softball coach Rick Cerra saw the pieces for a strong season and postseason run come together back in September, six months before preseason practices began.

“Things were really falling into place, and we were really looking forward to having this team on the field,” Cerra said.

His expectations became reality as the Lancers came together to win the Section 1-3A title, finished as a WPIAL runners up and made it to Thursday’s PIAA quarterfinal round before a tough 3-0 loss to District 6 champion Bald Eagle.

“Although I was disappointed for the girls that we didn’t ultimately get to where we wanted to be, they can hold their heads high. It was a really talented group, one through nine. It was a good year for Deer Lakes softball,” Cerra said.

Added junior shortstop Shayne Cerra: “We were all super proud with how far we made it this year. It didn’t just come to us. We earned it through hard work and playing together as a team.”

Bald Eagle scored twice in the second and once in the third to set the eventual 3-0 final of Thursday’s quarterfinal game at St. Francis (Pa.).

“I think the sad feeling we have is that the season is over, and we are losing some important members of our team,” Shayne Cerra said.

“We really bonded and grew so much together through all of the season experiences. It was so much fun.”

Deer Lakes collected five hits off of Eagles freshman phenom Sierra Albright but was not able to get a run on the board. Lancers sophomore Maddie Kee allowed eight hits, but she got stronger as the game went on.

She worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and retired 11 of the final 12 batters to help keep her team in the game.

“I thought two of the three facets of the game we played really well,” Coach Cerra said.

“Maddie had four strikeouts, so the girls had to make 17 plays on the field. With no errors, they did a great job. Maddie pitched very well that whole game. We just weren’t able to string enough hits together when we needed them to have a chance to win against a good team like that.”

Kee finished the season with a 14-3 record, a 1.88 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP with 141 strikeouts over 112 innings.

“Maddie really took a big step this year, and she pitched with a lot of confidence,” Coach Cerra said.

Seven of the nine hitters in the lineup batted .300 or better. Senior Reese Hasley led the way with a .409 average, six doubles, and 17 runs batted in. Kee hit .371 with seven doubles and 24 RBIs, and sophomore catcher Tia Germanich fronted the lineup with five home runs and 26 RBIs.

“We showed many times throughout the season that everyone could hit the ball,” Cerra said. “There were no gaps in the lineup.”

The program bids farewell to Hasley as well as seniors Lydia Guthrie, Keeghan Cook and Jenna Bisegna.

Coach Cerra credits Bisegna, last year’s starting pitcher, for understanding the move to have her play first base and give way for Kee to make her mark in the circle.

There will be a new starter at first, and the entire outfield will be new, as Cook and Guthrie flanked Hasley.

The seniors combined to go 34-19 overall and 23-5 in section play with three playoff trips in three seasons. The 2020 season was wiped out in the onset of the covid pandemic.

“It’s not only talent-wise and drive-wise but also their leadership qualities they all had,” Coach Cerra said. “That is going to be tough to fill. Defensively, they were lights out. They were reliable at the plate. To lose them, girls are going to have to step up next year to be able to fill what will be a big void.”

Next year’s team will be built around Cerra, Kee, Germanich as well as infielders in juniors Anna Bokulich (second base) and Delanie Kaiser (third base).

“There are definitely opportunities for some younger players to make their mark,” Coach Cerra said. “That is what has made this program successful. Those who were bench players, and other younger players coming up, see that success and want to experience the same thing. It drives them to work hard and put themselves in position to maybe grab one of those spots.”

Deer Lakes qualified for the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 2017, when it also made it to the quarterfinals.

The Lancers have taken part in six state tournaments since 2012.

“The program speaks for itself with what it has been able to do,” Coach Cerra said. “To have this year’s team be a part of that and in the conversation with those other teams, that is something to be proud of.

“The current players grew up learning from role models on successful past teams. Hopefully, they have inspired younger players coming up to strive for the same success.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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