Gateway searches for consistency during WPIAL playoff push

Friday, April 26, 2019 | 6:50 PM

It’s been a case of feast or near-famine for the Gateway softball team.

In their six wins, the Gators scored an average of 14 runs per outing.

In the five losses, Gateway averaged 2.4 runs per game.

“We have been working every day on hitting,” said Scott Lewis, the Gators’ second-year coach. “It is contagious. When one starts hitting well, some of the others will also. It seems to work the same when some struggle, they all do.

“We need to attack the ball at the plate and, as always, swing at strikes.”

The Gators’ starting lineup consists of senior captains Mykaila Jackson (P/1B), Jordan Henderson (3B) and Gionna DeLuca (2B), juniors Maura Ryan (P/1B), Kayla Gratton (P/SS) and Sydney Hunter (CF), sophomore Emma Kennedy (C); and freshmen Deanna Gratton (DP/C), Nikkita Vojnik (LF) and Katie Ryan (RF).

After 11 games, Kennedy, who led the club in hitting last season, is batting .516 with an .605 on-base percentage. She had eight doubles, a triple, a home run, 12 RBIs, and she scored 17 times.

“Offense is a (team) strength, and that’s because hitting is contagious,” said Kennedy, who plays travel softball for the Ohio Outlaws 15U Nogay team. “We have so much talent, and when we’re hitting, it just goes through the lineup. We’ve had bumps and have made errors, but we are doing our best and working hard to fix them. I believe we can go far.

“Personally, I just want to continue to hit the ball hard, and pick some people off the bases when I catch.”

Kennedy also competes in volleyball at Gateway, but softball is her passion.

“Softball is something that I’m so passionate about, and the girls on both teams I’m on share that passion. It’s something I’m so happy to get to experience,” she said.

Hunter (.464), Deanna Gratton (.452) and Kayla Gratton (.414) are members of the Gators’ .400 club, and Maura Ryan wasn’t far behind with a .375 average. Hunter and both Grattons also owned .500-or-better on-base percentages.

As a team, the Gators were hitting .364 with a .451 on-base percentage, and had outscored the opposition, 97-61.

Maura Ryan, Jackson and Kayla Gratton have been pitching “by committee.” Gateway has won twice via shutouts.

Jackson, Henderson, DeLuca, Maura Ryan, Kayla Gratton, Hunter and Kennedy all are multiyear starters. Kennedy is the lone sophomore on the team.

After winning four of five games recently, Gateway dropped a 13-5 decision April 23 to Shaler.

The Gators, who have had five postponements, fell into a tie for fouth place with Mars in Section 2-5A, behind Hampton, Plum and Shaler.

The Gators opened the season with a 13-3 loss March 26 at Mars. On April 18, the Gateway girls blanked the same club 15-0 in their section rematch.

“In the loss at the beginning of the season, we struggled in the field and at the plate,” Lewis said. “This time, we started strong and the game only went three innings (due to the mercy rule).”

The Gators have been bolstered this year by a strong group of freshman players. They include Deanna Gratton, Katie Ryan, Vojnik, Addison Comunale (OF) and Leah Dehass (IF).

Rounding out the team are senior outfielders Sam Beley and Ashlee Skoog, junior outfielders Angela Schroeder and Gianna Vermeulen (OF/IF), and junior infielder Kayla Valerino.


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