Greensburg Salem softball has rare commodity in this unique season — experience

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 | 5:52 PM

Alyssa Bates has waited nearly 16 months to fill out her first lineup card as the head coach of the Greensburg Salem softball team, so she’s more than ready to get the season going.

Bates took over the program in September of 2019, but the cancellation of the 2020 spring sports season due to the covid-19 pandemic delayed her debut.

“For me personally, just having to wait a year and half to coach my first game is very unique,” Bates said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great feeling.”

Bates spent two years as an assistant with the Golden Lions after finishing a standout career as a catcher at Gannon. She credited former Lions coach Rachel Brannigan, who resigned after the 2019 season, for being a good mentor for her as a coach.

When Bates finally gets her opportunity to coach, she’ll do so with a team that has some seasoning even with the cancellation of last season.

“We have 10 girls that at least played a few games at the varsity level in the past, so we have an experienced team,” Bates said. “They know the ropes. Even though they didn’t get to play last year, they’ve been with us before so they know what it takes to be leaders and show the younger girls how to play as a team. I feel like we will show some people what we’re made of this year.”

Junior shortstop Carissa Caldwell and senior left fielder Megan Toth are two players Bates will rely on for leadership. Bates has also been impressed with sophomore centerfielder Mia Peticca’s communication skills. They’ll bolster a lineup that Bates feels can do some damage.

“Most of the girls have played travel ball, so they have been able to stay in shape,” Bates said. “They really haven’t missed a beat since practice started this spring.”

Chelsea Stabile, a junior pitcher, will be relied upon to provide quality innings.

“She’s been working really hard staying up to speed with all of her pitches and her spins throughout the offseason,” Bates said.

The Golden Lions open the season with a nonsection game against Belle Vernon on Friday and have another nonsection game scheduled with Hempfield on March 31 prior to diving into section play. The Hempfield game is circled on the calendar for sentimental reasons, because Bates will be going up against her alma mater and former coach in the legendary Bob Kalp.

Then Greensburg Salem will dive into Section 1-4A play with Highlands, Burrell, Freeport, McKeesport and Knoch. Aside from Highlands, all of the teams are new section opponents from the last time the Golden Lions played.

Greensburg Salem has played Freeport in nonsection play in the past and lost to Knoch in the first round of the 2019 playoffs.

They are looking forward to the challenge as they try to make a second straight postseason appearance.

“We are familiar with some of the teams, but a few of them will be new, not only for us, but for them too,” Bates said. “We’ll go in there and give it our best shot. It’s almost a clean slate for everyone with the canceled season last year, so we’re all excited for it.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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