Freshmen, sophomores to make quick impact for Springdale softball team
By: Jerin Steele
Tuesday, March 19, 2019 | 8:53 PM
Springdale softball coach Anthony Pototo pointed to a few factors that went against his team last season: poor weather, a lack of pitching depth and a young team.
Cancellations for poor weather led to playing section games three days in a row or having to resort to doubleheaders, and the Dynamos had only one pitcher, Faith Lepovsky, last year. Pototo credited her for giving it her best while pitching every inning and sometimes two games in one day.
The Dynamos are hoping for sunnier days after finishing 1-10 last year, and Pototo already sees a bright spot as he has several girls who can pitch this year, led by freshman Alexis Hrivnak.
“I have a lot more pitching options, so we won’t have anyone getting a tired arm when we play back-to-back-to-back games this year,” Pototo said. “We kind of got stuck in that last year. We had a chance to make the playoffs last year when we played Northgate in a doubleheader at the end of the season, and we only had one pitcher (Lepovsky) both games. That becomes pretty difficult.”
Hrivnak enters varsity softball with some impressive accolades in the club softball ranks.
She plays travel ball for the Ohio Outlaws, has pitched in the USSSA World Series and was a USA Elite Select All-American in 2017-18.
Hrivnak will step in as the team’s top pitcher right away.
“She’s going to carry a lot of the load,” Pototo said. “She’s a really good player. Her parents are involved with softball and have done a great job with her and other girls building them up to play in high school.”
Another freshman, Emily Wilhelm, will also pitch and play third base. Pototo said he has a couple more options behind his top two.
Hrivnak is ready to get in the circle and test herself against varsity competition.
“I’m looking forward to everything,” Hrivnak said. “I’ve never had this experience before, and I’m really excited, and I really just want to have fun with these girls this year. I want to give this team some really good pitching.”
Catcher Brianna Thompson also is a freshman. Hrivnak and Thompson have been playing together since Little League and have built a good relationship.
“She makes me feel me much more comfortable out there, and if I get upset she can calm me down,” Hrivnak said. “It’s nice having a close friend be your catcher.”
Springdale returns several sophomores who were starters as freshmen, including shortstop Dayna Zezza and first baseman Natalie Woitas. Leann Brannock and Gabby Yost are the only two seniors, and neither of them played last year. Brannock is playing for the first time, and Yost missed last season, but played as a sophomore. Junior Anna Harmon will be in center field.
The Dynamos drop down from Class 2A to A and will play in a new Section 3 with some old rivals like Greensburg Central Catholic, St. Joseph and Leechburg. Geibel Catholic and Ellis School also are in the section.
Overall, Pototo likes the future prospects of his team and thinks they may start making noise as soon as this season.
“I’m really excited about this year,” Pototo said. “The young talent we have works hard, and they’re excited to come to work every day. They’re focused, and I feel like we’ll put a good product out on the field that can be successful.”
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer