Red & Black looking to make some noise at the league and district levels
The Lady Hornets started slowly last year on the local softball scene. But, as the season progressed, things started coming together.
By the time the Lackawanna League campaign ended, no one wanted any part of the Red & Black.
Coach Dave Patrisso’s squad earned a home game in the District Two tournament and made the most of the opportunity.
With a big, raucous crowd looking on, Honesdale thrashed Crestwood by a score of 10-0. The only thing that stopped this late season surge was a tough loss to eventual 5A champion Tunkhannock.
“We made a lot of progress last year during the second half,” Coach Patrisso said. “I’m hoping that momentum carries over a little bit. I’m pumped because I think this team really has potential.”
This marks Dave’s 15th year as head coach of Honesdale’s varsity squad. And, weather permitting he’ll soon get a chance to see some of that potential actualized.
The Lady Hornets travel to Wilkes Barre on Tuesday for their final exhibition versus Holy Redeemer. The Royals dominated Class 3A en route to both a district title and a berth in the 2018 state championship game.
“We’re going to learn a lot about ourselves as a team,” Coach Patrisso said. “If you want to be the best, you have to play the best. I want us to play the best possible competition and see how we measure up.”
First pitch is scheduled for Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in the Diamond City.
Honesdale’s strengths this year will be leadership, experience and depth.
Nine starters return and six of them are battle-tested seniors: Alexa Jones, Kaitlyn Price, Sadie Wood, Brooke Gardas, Julianna Decker, Megan Rembish.
All are veteran players and each is expected to excel this spring.
Jones is one of the league’s most feared power hitters. She’ll hold down the Hot Corner and bat in the clean-up spot.
“Alexa is an excellent leader,” Coach Patrisso said. She just loves the game and it shows. Lex gives us a lot of pop in the middle of our order and she’s a Gold Glove caliber third baseman.”
Price is one of the region’s truly elite players. A three-time divisional all-star, Kaitlyn will patrol centerfield and bat third.
“She's a pure hitter who drives the ball gap-to-gap,” said Coach Patrisso. “The ball just sounds different coming off her bat. When Kaitlyn gets ahold of one, look out.”
Wood is Honesdale’s most versatile player. Over the course of her four year varsity career, Sadie has starred behind the plate and in the outfield. This season, she’ll anchor the infield at shortstop and hit lead-off.
“Sadie does everything well,” Coach Patrisso said. “She has a good glove, she runs well and she has a real knack for getting on base. Sadie will definitely be our table setter this year.”
Gardas returns at second base where she was a divisional all-star two seasons ago. A four year varsity starter, Brooke will also bat near the top of the order.
“We’re expecting big things from Brooke,” said Coach Patrisso. “She’s an excellent all-around player.”
Decker is another versatile performer. She can play infield and corner outfield positions, but may make her most crucial contribution this year in the circle.
“Julianna brings a lot to the table,” Coach Patrisso said. “She is definitely going to pitch and she’s been swinging a hot bat for us so far. I expect her to DH once in awhile and maybe come up with some big pinch hits too.”
Rembish will be Honesdale’s Designated Player for a third consecutive year. She’s a gifted hitter who’s led the team in batting average each of the past two seasons.
“What I like to say about Megan is ‘all she does is hit,’” Coach Patrisso said with a smile. “She’s kind of quiet and unassuming, but Megan’s bat does the talking for her.”
On the Field
Honesdale’s first on-field action came late last week against Carbondale Area.
This scrimmage took place on the turf at the University of Scranton and Coach Patrisso really liked what he saw from his team.
“We played well,” he said. “We put together some excellent at-bats and hit the ball hard. If we’re going to take this to the next level and compete with the elite teams, we have to be better offensively than we were last year.”
Pitching should be another strength for the Red & Black. In addition to Decker, Honesdale also has freshman phenom Marissa Gregory and junior Natalee West. They’ll all be throwing to sophomore Rachel Daub who took over catching duties midway through last season.”
“We have a lot more depth than in previous years, so that’s definitely a good thing,” said Coach Patrisso. “All thee of those girls throw hard and they all throw strikes. So, whoever we put out there will give us a chance to win.”
The Lady Hornets will be competing in a re-vamped Division II against the likes of Wallenpaupack Area, Western Wayne, North Pocono and DV.
The Trojans and Buckhorns finished 1-2 last year with Honesdale a distant third. Coach Patrisso hopes that this spring, his girls will build on their late season success and take that next step up.
“I still love doing this,” he said with a smile. “I really enjoy working with these girls. It’s easy because we have such great kids here at Honesdale. It keeps me coming back for more every year.”