Knoch softball looking to build on historic 2019 season

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Saturday, March 14, 2020 | 10:00 PM


After one of its best seasons in 2019, the Knoch softball team heads into this season with a lot of confidence.

Last season, the Knights finished 18-3, won a Section 3-4A championship, earned a third-place finish in the WPIAL Class 4A tournament and made a PIAA playoff appearance for the first time.

“It was amazing, knowing that we were the first team to go to states was unbelievable,” senior pitcher Amanda Fischer said. “It was a shock to everyone becausem going into the seasonm we weren’t sure about anything with the new coaching staff. But it was a great feeling all around the whole season.”

The Knights head into the second season of coach Gary Coe’s tenure looking build on what they started. But how do the Knights improve on a season in which they only lost one regular-season game?

Coe believes it will come down to a little timely hitting.

“Last year, when we got knocked out of the WPIALs, we had girls in scoring position early, and if we would’ve got up early, the game situation would’ve changed,” Coe said. “It was just a few timely hits. We ran into a little bad luck there maybe.”

The Knights will look to find success without two of their top hitters from last season in first basemen Erin Luffy and shortstop Monica Gourley.

They were named to Valley News Dispatch first-team as seniors and finished with batting averages north of .600. Although they left big shoes to fill, the Knights believe they have a young, talented roster that can make up for what was lost.

“They (Luffy and Gourley) were definitely key parts of our lineup last year,” Fischer said. “But I think we have some younger players that are coming up that will allow us to put up a fight this season.”

Most of that production will start with Fischer, who was named the Valley News Dispatch Player of the Year last season and is the team’s lone senior. She finished with a 13-3 overall record, a 1.73 ERA and 106 strikeouts.

Fischer was just as good at the plate.

She finished with a .366 batting average with 21 RBIs. Having her in the center of the lineup and in the circle is something Coe said allows his team to play loose.

“It’s just confidence. It instills confidence in everyone,” Coe said about Fischer’s presence. “We practice a lot of defense. We do a lot of groundball work, and we hit as well. But we’re also able to play loose.”

Surrounding Fischer will be Liv Vissar, who will move from second base to shortstop to replace Gourley. Other players will look to step up in key positions as well, but Coe said they are still moving players around to figure out who fits where.

“We’ve been shifting girls around, but we have some young talent and have some girls that may move around position-wise still,” Coe said. “Just depends on who we have throwing, because we have four girls that can throw, and we’re hoping to use all of them.”

No matter the makeup of their lineup, the Knights believe they can repeat what they accomplished last season.

“I keep telling the girls, ‘Teams will be shooting for us this year,’ as it should be,” Coe said. “But you always want to beat the better teams, and we want to do that, too.”

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

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