Derry softball team needs influx of talent
Friday, March 11, 2022 | 8:51 PM
At the Derry softball field, the “help wanted” sign is out.
“I still have spots open,” coach John DePalma said as the Trojans prepared for a March 25 visit from Apollo-Ridge for their season opener.
“I don’t have the luxury of a lot of girls, but for the ones that are here, we’re constantly coaching them. We have very few high-end travel girls. We only have two that are playing Class A travel ball.”
It’s a sign of the times, trying to get the upper hand with a roster full of year-round competitors. No matter their experience level, DePalma is hoping his returning players will respond. The Trojans are coming off a year that produced the school’s first WPIAL playoff victory.
But the current Derry team is hoping to find suitable replacements for several key players, now departed.
“We’re pretty much a new team,” DePalma said. “We lost five seniors from last year, and we lost a lot of defense.”
The “help wanted” sign is calling for replacements for, among others, No. 1 pitcher Maddie Berger and power-hitting outfielder Carissa Bateman.
Berger hurled Derry to its groundbreaking playoff win, 3-1 over South Park, and Bateman tied Isabella DePalma for the team lead in home runs (four) and was second with 13 RBIs.
The Trojans closed the season 7-7 (6-4 in Section 1) after losing to eventual PIAA Class 3A champion Mt. Pleasant, 6-0, in the WPIAL quarterfinals.
“I was very excited for the girls when we won that playoff game,” he said. “I wanted them to experience that and I wanted them to play a good team that they’ve not seen before, knowing they’re the underdog. We came in as the ninth seed, and we beat a higher seed.”
DePalma has tabbed sophomore Maize Legge as Derry’s No. 1 pitcher.
His daughter, Isabella, a catcher committed to Division II Pitt-Johnstown, heads the returnees after leading the Trojans in batting average (.564), home runs (four) and RBIs (17).
Other key returnees are senior infielder Abby Doperak (.485 BA), senior first baseman Shelby Glick (.333) and junior center fielder Sarah Dettling.
DePalma said he’s been impressed with freshman Sophia Dougherty, a versatile newcomer who can play multiple positions.
“She’s got a big bat,” he said. “She can catch, play a corner and even the outfield, if she has to.
“I know these girls and what their abilities are. I’m trying to get them prepared.”
Tags: Derry Area
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