Springdale softball hopes to use last season as springboard to more success

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020 | 6:27 PM


It was a season to remember for Springdale’s softball team.

The Dynamos made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2000. Springdale went 13-4 overall, finished second to Leechburg in Section 3-A with a 9-3 mark and beat Quigley Catholic, 14-0, in the first round before losing to Union in the WPIAL quarterfinals.

It was the first winning season for sixth-year coach Anthony Pototo, the turnaround more remarkable considering Springdale won five games in the previous four seasons.

“The combination of freshmen and upperclassmen provided a lot of success,” he said. “The freshmen that came in were a big boost to our program.

“A lot of these girls have been together through youth, community and travel teams. So going over basic fundamentals didn’t need to happen, and it was (a matter of) putting it all together with what we had at Springdale.”

Greater success might be on the way for a team that returns seven starters, including sophomore captains Brianna Thompson and Emily Wilhelm.

Both will see time as pitchers and at shortstop. Thompson also catches ,and Wilhelm plays third base.

The captains are also joined by classmate Alexis Hrivnak as the top hitter and pitcher on the staff. Hrivnak hit four homers (.523) and struck out 154, starting every game on the mound.

“Hrivnak, Thompson and Wilhelm are all travel players, so even when the season ended last year, they continued to play all the way through the summer and still did things in the fall leading up to the season,” Pototo said.

“I’m looking for them to carry our team, continue to work and help each other out. When one is not pitching, (hopefully one is) being able to step in and help out depending on who we are playing. My expectations are high for them (because) they are very good softball players.”

Thompson batted .498 last season and had nine doubles, four triples and an inside-the-park home run. Wilhelm batted .423 with five doubles and two triples.

Other returning sophomores are second baseman/outfielder Autumn Sprouse, third baseman/outfielder Emily Shoop and first baseman Maggie Dvorsak.

Pototo hopes the group gets an opportunity to play.

“I know everyone else in the WPIAL is on the same boat (with the coronavirus outbreak), but it was good to be on the field playing before the season was postponed,” he said.

The Dynamos faced a series of weather postponements last season, playing seven games in the last seven days of the regular season.

The team won five of those games.

“I give my girls a lot of credit last year because we had a 17-day layover between games,” Pototo said. “I was really impressed on how they managed to get through those 17 days of practicing in the gym to (win five games in seven days), so I know they are committed and capable of working hard no matter what the circumstances.”

Center fielder Anna Harmon — the team’s only senior — will be joined by Sprouse and Shoop in the outfield. Sophomore Lilly Gamble and freshmen Alana Rudolf, Katie Stec and Rhylee Walls could also see time in the outfield.

“I’m looking for Harmon to have a big year (as the team’s only senior),” Pototo said. “Her leadership role will continue to grow by sharing her experiences with all of her younger teammates.”

First baseman/catcher Natalie Woitas and shortstop/second baseman Dayna Zezza, both juniors, are returning starters. Woitas batted .443 with nine doubles, five triple and a home run.

“Woitas has a big stick. Last year in the playoff game (against Quigley), she hit a home run,” Pototo said. “She’s my No. 3 hitter, could be my No. 4. She plays a good first base and is very athletic. I’m looking for her to be a little more vocal (as an upperclassmen).”

Robert Scott III is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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