Ligonier Valley softball team eyes longer postseason run

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Saturday, March 14, 2020 | 6:46 PM


Another successful softball season at Ligonier Valley in 2019 abruptly ended with an early exit from the postseason.

For the Rams, who last qualified for the PIAA playoffs in 2017, it is time to get back to the business of trying to win a few more of those games.

But first, another regular season awaits.

“We had a pretty good year again,” said Ligonier Valley coach Mark Zimmerman, who is entering his 21st season with the Rams, of last season’s 17-3 record.

What can Zimmerman expect this season?

He welcomes back six starters from a District 6 Heritage Conference-championship team that was beaten in its final game last season by Chestnut Ridge, 7-1, in a District 5/6 Class 3A semifinal.

Three players from that team graduated.

“I’m happy with the team I’ve got to start the year,” Zimmerman said. “Are we going to be good? Who knows? We’re going to have to get a couple games under our belt before we can get a better feeling for it.”

It won’t come soon after the PIAA postponed spring sports season amid the coronavirus pandemic. Ligonier Valley was scheduled for three games during a five-day stretch beginning Wednesday at the Disney Softball Spring Training tournament. The Rams were to face Urbana (Ill.), Brooks School (Mass.) and District 2 Elk Lake, a PIAA Class 2A school.

Senior starters gone from last season are Mia Lynn at second, Abi Cmar at third and Nina Christopher in left field.

“Filling a couple of those holes was pretty easy,” Zimmerman said, noting he expects Annabella Schueltz to step in at second and Courtney McKlveen to move to third from right field, where she played last season.

Kailey Johnston and Amanda Hakel were competing for the left-field spot, he said.

Senior pitcher Jane Garver heads the list of six returning starters. She’s joined by McKlveen, catcher Kaylee Colt, first baseman Megan Hakel, shortstop Maddie Griffin and center fielder Taylor Bojtos.

Griffin likely will be a relief pitcher and spot starter in place of Garver, a four-year starter for Ligonier Valley, who is bound for Robert Morris.

“Most of the girls on our roster will make some noise for us,” Zimmerman said, adding three freshmen — utility player Haley Boyd, infielder Lena Salancy and outfielder/pitcher Ruby Wallace — could see extended playing time.

“They’re nice freshmen who are already busting their way in there. That’s a good thing to have in your back pocket when you have nine seniors already on the team.”

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