New coach sees potential on Greensburg Salem softball roster

Monday, March 14, 2022 | 5:51 PM

It is Bill Wright’s first high school season as a varsity softball coach, but he knows his players well.

Wright enters his fifth year in the Greensburg Salem system as the school’s new head coach, a move that occurred late following the January resignation of former coach Alyssa Bates.

“It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s been a smooth transition,” Wright said, “When I first got into the school program, I was hired as middle school coach and had juniors on the first middle school team. They’ve since moved up to the varsity, so our paths have been pretty much the same.”

Wright served the past two seasons as Bates’ varsity assistant, but much like other schools, the team’s 2020 schedule was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic. In their only season together on the field a year ago, the Golden Lions struggled, going 3-13 overall (3-7 in Section 1-4A).

“We’ve said it from day one: This group underachieved last year,” said Wright, who becomes the school’s fourth coach in six years. “There’s no doubt about it. They underachieved. That said, they were a year younger.”

The Golden Lions will be tested early, playing a nonconference schedule that includes games against Belle Vernon, Class 6A Hempfield and defending PIAA Class 3A champion Mt. Pleasant.

“We have five girls who are juniors this year who played significant time as sophomores,” Wright said. “That would’ve been their first varsity season because of covid. The goal is to build a program like (perennial Class 6A title contender) Hempfield and Mt. Pleasant, starting with the youth programs up through high school. I believe these girls have a better grasp of that a year later.”

Another tie between Wright and his current team comes from the Greensburg-based Lady Canes travel team, where Wright has coached as many as seven current Greensburg Salem players in the past.

“I have a relationship with these girls,” he said. “I’ve watched them grow up. I’m glad for this opportunity because it would have been tough to not see them finish out their careers here.”

Wright said the biggest question mark for his new team is finding a leader or two.

He predicted senior Chelsea Stabile — a Division III Chatham recruit — and junior Kaidence Thomas will be “a great one-two punch” on the mound this year. Juniors Emma Kaufman, an outfielder, and Heather Bolen also could see time in the circle.

“From a sophomore to junior, Emma definitely made the biggest jump of anyone,” Wright said. “She’s made the biggest leap.”

Junior Paige Storkel, whom Wright said has shown good leadership and is strong defensively, likely will be behind the plate most of the time, although sophomore Gionnah Ruffner is “an outstanding catcher, too.”

“We need her bat in the lineup. She’s our best power bat,” Wright said.

Ruffner, who missed a big chunk of last season with injuries, also can play outfield and third base.

Senior Angela Kobuck, a four-year starter, perhaps is Greensburg Salem’s most versatile player.

“She’s worked hard all winter on her bat,” Wright said.

Kobuck has played second, third, shortstop and the outfield for the Golden Lions.

It is hoped that another four-year starter, shortstop Carissa Caldwell, can fill the leadoff role in the lineup. Wright said that Caldwell, a defensive whiz who is headed to Penn State-Fayette next season, is a contact hitter with great speed.

“She can be an effective leadoff hitter if she can set the table for us,” Wright said.

Others being counted upon are outfielders Mia Peticca, a junior, and senior Jaden Noel, as well as senior utility player Trinity Anderson-Owens.

Peticca, like Caldwell, possesses good speed and is likely to return to center field, Wright said. “We’re really looking for a good year from her,” he said.

“Look, these girls know they’re capable of being better,” Wright said. “Their goals are high. They want to win the section. I think it’s attainable, but they’ve got to continue to put in the work. We can’t underachieve.”


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