New coach Bates hopes to steer young Greensburg Salem softball team in right direction

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Monday, March 9, 2020 | 7:42 PM


Former Hempfield softball standout Alyssa Bates steps in this season as coach at Greensburg Salem after a two-year stint as an assistant with the Golden Lions.

Bates, a freshman on Hempfield’s 2009 WPIAL Class AAAA championship team, said she is relying on what she learned from various mentors to develop a successful coaching style.

“I’m super excited for this opportunity,” said Bates, who succeeds Rachel Brannigan at Greensburg Salem. “The past two years have been eye-opening for me. Just learning from Rachel and blending that with what I’ve observed from my coaches at Gannon (Tom Jakubowski) and Hempfield (Bob Kalp) gives me the confidence I need.”

Brannigan resigned after a two-year record of 15-21 and one WPIAL playoff appearance.

Bates, following her high school career, where she played for legendary Hempfield coach Kalp, was a two-time first-team all-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference selection while catching at Division II Gannon.

Since transitioning to the coaching ranks, Bates has found herself saying things she remembers her coaches saying to her, and she believes in those ideals.

“It makes me want to sit back and understand why parents want their daughters to play,” she said. “I want my players to find the best possible chance to be on the field, and I think if they look at it like they want to come and work hard every day, they’ll get that chance.”

Bill Wright, a former junior varsity and middle school coach at Greensburg Salem, will take over as a varsity assistant.

“He’s come in with open arms,” Bates said. “He’s welcomed the challenge, and he’s been great working with the girls. Most of them know him from middle school, so it’s been a really smooth transition for everyone.”

Bates said she is starting with a blank lineup card after the graduation of four players from a 7-12 team (4-6 in Section 1-4A) that lost to Knoch in the WPIAL quarterfinals.

“We’re looking to fill some big shoes: catcher, pitcher, shortstop and center field,” Bates said. “We’ve got four seniors, but we tell the girls, even if you were a starter last year, you can’t take that for granted.”

Two full-time starters, second baseman Kasey Storkel and first baseman Mattie White, return, as do part-time starters Chloe Perkins and Alexa Houck.

Perkins was the team’s designated hitter who is challenging to become the starting catcher, and Hoke played right field.

Juniors Megan Toth (left field) and Kayla Gaughan (right field) and sophomore Angela Kobuck (third base) also appear to have the edge at their positions.

Sophomore Chelsea Stabile and freshman Emma Kaufman are the top pitching candidates to succeed the departed Rena Caruso, a freshman at Pitt-Greensburg.

Bates said sophomore utility player Carissa Caldwell could see sustained time at shortstop, replacing Tiffany Bruzda, who graduated.

Caruso is among three players who moved on to Division III schools this year, joining catcher Sydney Tressler (St. Vincent) and center fielder Nikki Mellenger (Chatham).

“The potential here is sky-high,” Bates said. “These girls are really working hard. We have nine fershmen, so this is a young team. But you can tell the upperclassmen have taken them under their wings, not only on the field but in school, as well.

“Even with the coaching change, they know us, but we have different rules.”

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