Ligonier Valley softball wants status quo: Success

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Saturday, March 27, 2021 | 6:24 PM


Every year, it seems, Ligonier Valley coach Mark Zimmerman appears optimistic about his softball team’s chances for a successful season.

Most years, the Rams have succeeded.

In fact, since 2006, not counting last season’s canceled schedule because of the coronavirus pandemic, Ligonier Valley advanced to the District 6 playoffs all but one time.

“We’ve been so fortunate to have some great players and some really good teams,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what size school you are, if you have a good team, go out there and play.”

Zimmerman sees no reason why the success can’t continue at Ligonier Valley as the Rams return to the WPIAL after a long absence. Five seniors and three juniors are on the 19-player roster.

Ligonier Valley will compete in Section 2-2A with Apollo-Ridge, Brentwood, Jeannette, Serra Catholic, Seton La Salle and Steel Valley.

Two years ago, in 2019, the Rams settled for a 17-3 record after losing a District 5/6 Class A first-round playoff game to Chestnut Ridge and was expecting to be a playoff contender again last year in District 6 before the season was shut down.

“We don’t have a lot of holes to fill,” Zimmerman said. “We had enough girls sitting back there, some just waiting for their turn.”

Junior Maddie Griffin is among the returning starters, playing mainly at shortstop but also with some pitching experience. She’ll take over on the mound Tuesday when Ligonier Valley entertains Brentwood in its opener.

“She did very well as a freshman,” he said. “We feel very good about having her out there in the circle this year. Any time you have somebody there who’s above average, it helps your defense.”

Sophomore Haley Boyd, who has yet to play varsity, will fill the vacancy at shortstop.

“Haley will develop into a really good player,” Zimmerman said. “She can make a difference as she gets more and more experience. It’s hard to coach experience, though, because you don’t know how they’re going react.”

Zimmerman said he’s confident the team’s seniors can make solid contributions to the season.

“None of them are superstars, but they’re all really nice players,” he said of Kailey Johnston, a left-hander who will split time at first base and center field and also be available to pitch, and third baseman Jordan Hofecker, catcher Eden Krouse, second baseman Bella Schueltz and right fielder Bella Vargulish.

Sophomore Ruby Wallace will play in center field, and freshman Cheyenne Piper will be in left field.

“She can play in a lot of places,” Zimmerman said of Piper. “She shows a lot of promise. At some point in her career, she will pitch for us, too.

“For this time of year, we’re pleased with where we are.”

As a lifelong resident of Ligonier, Zimmerman is pleased, too, that Ligonier Valley agreed to move its athletic programs to District 7 (WPIAL) from District 6.

Travel times, he said, will be similar to those of Heritage Conference opponents in District 6, nearly all of which are in Indiana County.

“I’m excited about playing in the WPIAL,” Zimmerman said. “I grew up in Ligonier. This is where we always felt we should be.”

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