Kiski Area softball will stress versatility with just 3 returning starters

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Thursday, March 25, 2021 | 8:19 PM


When the coronavirus pandemic canceled last year’s spring sports season, the Kiski Area softball team lost a lot.

Seniors Brooke Bires, Courtney Moyer, and Sarah Clever were three big bats in the lineup, and they had their sights set on doing big things last season. But their hopes were dashed when the season was canceled.

“That was awful. That was going to be our year to compete,” Kiski Area coach Dee Cortazzo said. “But you know, this year we are in a new section, so that also benefits us because we were in there with some powerhouses last year and we are still in there with some powerhouses.”

The Cavaliers will face Franklin Regional and Armstrong in Section 1-5A this season, but rather than playing Connellsville, Latrobe, Albert-Gallatin, and Laurel Highlands, they get Indiana, Penn Hills, Plum, and Woodland Hills.

“It’s like a fresh start for us,” Cortazzo said.

The Cavaliers will attack this season with five seniors, three of whom started in 2019. Kasandra Cessna will see a lot of time in the circle after throwing 65 innings as a sophomore. She tallied a 4.63 ERA but also hit .326 and tallied 12 RBIs.

Alayna Mintz, who hit .347 and tallied 17 hits as a sophomore, is another senior who should see time this season. Cortazzo said Mintz was still working back from an injury, and her senior catcher was hoping to get back to swinging a bat this week.

Altogether, though, Cortazzo is proud of the way her senior class has handled the strange season.

“Now our seniors are coming from their sophomore year, and we have a lot of new kids that have very little playing experience, so it’s definitely a building year for us,” Cortazzo said. “We do have a great group of senior leadership, though, which I’m very proud of them for because like I said, they are coming straight in from their sophomore year to build up and see, ‘Oh, this is what I have to do next year.’ They are doing a great job of that.”

Cortazzo also has a few sophomores who could make an impact this season. Mackenzie Faveroa will play shortstop, and Hannah Simpson will pitch when Cessna is not.

With five juniors, the Cavaliers will lack experience.

“This is definitely a building year, but hopefully we will be able to surprise some teams,” Cortazzo said. “We are just going to keep working and get over a lot of fears that these kids have.”

Abby King is the final senior who started as a sophomore. She played right field and drove in five runs while hitting .192. King will move around — Cortazzo currently has her playing first base — and has been the perfect example of the versatility Cortazzo is stressing to her young team.

“A lot of kids are playing positions that they don’t normally play,” Cortazzo said. “I have outfielders playing first and third. I have a lot of kids stepping up and filling holes that were left by that senior class.

“Everybody has to be able to play multiple positions on this team because we don’t have a set third baseman or a set first baseman or even a set outfield. They have to be able to play as many positions as they can and be ready to go.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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