Gateway softball seeing where pieces fit after canceled season

Sunday, March 28, 2021 | 10:01 AM

Gateway’s softball team has taken a basic approach to the 2021 season, homing in directly on the game’s fundamentals.

“We are working on the basics to be able to make the routine plays in the field and minimize mental mistakes,” coach Scott Lewis said. “We are working on hitting just about every day. My expectation is to compete in every game.”

Sitting out 2020 because of covid-19 concerns has hampered the young Gators club so far in 2021.

“We have three pitchers that don’t have a lot of experience, so they would have gotten more experience and confidence last year,” Lewis said, “as well as would have the younger players.”

It appears Deanna Gratton, a right-handed junior, will be the mainstay of the pitching staff. Gratton has played softball for 11 years. This is her first varsity season in the circle.

“We have a young team with a lot of potential,” Gratton said. “We will grow together this year and into next year since we only have one senior that we will be losing.

“My personal goal is to grow as a pitcher since this is my first year pitching. The team was in need of a pitcher, and I decided to step up and learn how to pitch.”

Gratton has played third base and also can don the catcher’s equipment.

“I’m excited to be back on the field this year with my team,” she said.

So, just how young are these 2021 Gators?

Catcher Emma Kennedy is the lone senior on the roster. She has played softball for 10 years and formerly competed in volleyball.

“This is really a ‘regrowing’ season in my opinion. We have a very young team, but there is a lot of potential,” Kennedy said.

Two other integral players are juniors Nikkita Vojvik and Katie Ryan. Both started on the varsity squad as freshmen.

Along with incorporating pitching duties into her skill set this season, Voj­vik anchors the Gators’ infield from her shortstop position. Ryan, meanwhile, is a pitcher/first baseman.

“All of our pitchers graduated in 2020, forcing my peers and I to step into the roles as new pitchers for this season,” Vojvik said. “My goal is to become decent at pitching.

“I have not pitched since I was 10 years old, so it has become a learning curve for me. However, (I hope) the younger girls see our willingness to fill crucial roles and will follow in our footsteps in the years to come.”

Vojvik, who has played softball since she was 8, also plays volleyball at Gateway and previously competed as a diver on the girls swim team.

Gateway qualified for the WPIAL playoffs with winning records in 2018 and 2019.

“Due to losing so many of our staple players and gaining so many new faces, my honest expectation for this season is to just have everyone figure out their calling position-wise,” Vojvik said, “and as a team, learn more about the game to build our foundation back up.

“As we do those things, I hope to see collective progress from game to game.”

The Gators are in Section 2-5A, with Albert Gallatin, Connellsville, Latrobe, Penn-Trafford and Thomas Jefferson.

In 2019, the section consisted of Gateway, Hampton, Penn Hills, Plum, Mars, Oakland Catholic, Shaler and Woodland Hills.


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