With experienced roster, Freeport softball may be outlier

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 | 7:05 PM

The Freeport softball team may be an outlier in 2021.

After going 10-4 two years ago and coming up just short of winning the Section 1-3A title, the Yellowjackets will return a majority of their starting lineup after longtime coach Sam Ross utilized a talented group of freshmen and sophomores.

Ross now has three seniors and seven juniors on the roster as well as a few talented sophomores and freshmen, and he’s excited to see what they can do.

“We’re going to find out in a few games what they brought back with them or what they left behind,” Ross said with a laugh.

After hitting for a .440 average and smacking three home runs as a sophomore, senior shortstop Emily Schmidt is back for the Yellowjackets, as is junior pitcher Autumn Powell. As a freshman, Powell hit for a .417 average and also tallied 18 RBIs and one home run.

Along with freshman Sydney Selker, Powell will see a lot of time in the circle this year for the Yellowjackets after recording 15 innings as a freshman.

Senior Maya Borghol is also back, and she’ll provide the Yellowjackets with speed at the top of the lineup while also playing center field.

Ross is feeling confident about his team, and with a majority of his roster returning from two years ago, it would make sense they’d be ahead of most teams. But Ross still feels the Yellowjackets are behind.

“By now we usually have 3,000 swings in, and we’re far from that right now,” Ross said. “So, we really have to amp up our batting and some stuff like that. But, if they play up to their potential, we should be OK.”

Freeport returns experience in junior catcher Natalie King, junior first baseman Savanna Urik and right-fielder Jenna Selker. But the Yellowjackets still have some youth.

Freshmen Sidney Selker and Abby DeJidas are set to start for the Yellowjackets. Selker will play left field, and DeJidas will start third base, and Ross said they’ve been impressive so far.

“Those two are going to contribute right out of the gate,” Ross said. “So, we lost two (seniors), but we gain two and that’s really what you look for. You want to replace those seniors, and you hope that they improve year over year.”

The Yellowjackets also have some unfinished business from two years ago. After earning the No. 7 seed in the WPIAL Class 3A Playoffs, the Yellowjackets were upset by No. 10 Ellwood City in an extra-inning, first-round matchup.

The loss left a bad taste in their mouth.

“We know where we left, and we definitely want to get back there,” Schmidt said. “We want to strive for that and we want to reach for it, but we obviously want to get further than two years ago. We’re just excited.”

That run, with such a young team, gives the Yellowjackets assurance of what they are capable of two years later.

“It gives me more confidence,” Borghol said. “Knowing that we are the most experienced and knowing the game better, too. It’s definitely a confidence boost.”

The Yellowjackets also will play in a new section this season after bumping up to Class 4A. They’ll take on Burrell, Greensburg Salem, Highlands, Knoch and McKeesport in Section 1-4A play.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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