The past few seasons have been good for county softball teams in the post season. We’ve had District 1 champions in Avon Grove and Villa Maria, and a slew of state qualifiers, with Avon Grove reaching the state finals last year. The 2017 post season gets underway for our local teams Wednesday, and the county will have eight teams battling for a chance to play for District 1 supremacy and the right to move on to the PIAA tourney.
Ches-Mont National champ Coatesville is the county’s top seed in Class 6A, nailing down the number three seed. The Red Raiders have swung hot bats all year, and have outscored opponents 195-69 for the season.
Leading the Coatesville offense are Ashley Mendenhall (.500 avg, 11 2B, 9 HR, 37 RBI, 28 R, 1.042 slugging), Maggie Kane (.456 avg, 32 R, 7 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR) Payton Landis (.500 avg, 4 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 24 RBI) and Brian White (.397 avg, 5 2B, 7 HR, 31 RBI).
White has been the Red Raiders ace in the circle, finishing with a record of 12-3 while striking out 100 batters.
“After a very good regular season and a first place finish in the Ches-Mont National Division we’re optimistic that we can make a deep run into the district playoffs,” said Coatesville Coach Bill Mendenhall.
Having earned a first-round bye, the Raiders await the winner of No.14 Pennsbury and No. 19 Pennridge.
Avon Grove (15-5) also gets a first round bye with the ten seed, and will open with a round of 16 match-up with No. 7 Hatboro-Horsham (17-3). The Red Devils are on the same side of the bracket and could hit Coatesville in the semi-finals. Spring-Ford is the top seed in Class 6A.
Fully one third of the teams in the Class 5A bracket are from the Ches-Mont—five of the eight teams in the bottom half.
Bishop Shanahan (14-6) is the No. 2 seed, and open with No. 15 Radnor. No discussion of the Eagles can begin anywhere but with their ace in the circle, Devon Miller. When Miller is on, she is as dominant as anyone. In one three game stretch, she struck out 56, and finished with 236 Ks in 134 innings pitched, for an average of 12.14 per game.
Miller has also gotten it done at the plate, with a team high 6 HRs. Miller hit .430 for the year, with an .810 slugging percentage. Anne Weyand chipped in with 5 HR and 13 RBI to go along with her .430 average.
Should the Eagles get past Radnor, they will likely face Sun Valley (12-8), the No. 7 seed. The Vanguards finished in the three-way tie with Great Valley and Kennett for the Ches-Mont American title.
Great Valley (11-9) went on a tear to end its regular season, and picked up the No. 8 seed. Led by pitcher Morgan Orlowski and her battery mate, catcher Kasey Bryan, the Patriots have leadership that has been there before and know how to carry momentum deep into a post-season. The Patriots open with No. 9 Phoenixville (12-8).
Kennett (11-8) is seeded 11th, and kick off district play against No. 6 West Chester East (11-9). The Blue Demons are led by the senior trio of Maddie Bowe, Kylie Harvey and Jamie Wessels.
“With the tournament being composed of a lot of Chest-Mont teams, we’ve all seen each other previously, which will make for some exciting match-ups,” said Blue Demon Coach Lauren Gottstein. “Our team is looking forward to it and hoping to get some runs on the board early and protect and build upon our lead.”
The Vikings will look to Amelia Lark to continue to step it up in the circle, while still swinging a hot bat at the plate. Amilia Andraos has been an offensive leader for the Vikings all season, while catcher Sam Gomez has been a field general as well as a threat with the stick.
“It’s great to see the amount of teams from our league in the playoffs,” said Vikings’ coach Bobby Swier. “This helps to make a point about the quality of softball that is being played in our league. But it could be a one game season from here on out, and regardless of who it is, we have to be prepared.”
West Chester Henderson (12-8) earned the No. 3 seed, and begin tournament play with a match-up against No. 14 Harriton, with a win pitting the Warriors against the Kennett-West Chester East winner.
The Warriors point to their prowess with the leather as a reason for their success, and hope to continue that trend in the post-season. Offensively, the Warriors will look to Kasey Collins(.466 AVG, 24R, 13SB), Cameron Trotter (.355 AVG, 4 HR, 29 RBI) and Grace Abbonizio (367 AVG, 21 R, 17 RBI).
“Being in the Ches-Mont League allows our players and coaches to see some of the premier talent in the area throughout the season,” said Warriors’ Coach Chris Hessler. “The games between the teams are always close and down to the last inning. The downfall for the Ches-Mont is with so many teams making it, at some point, we may have to start eliminating each other.”
Finally, in Class 4A, Villa Maria will look to make it two straight district championships. The ACAA champion Hurricanes finished the regular season with a record of 16-3, including an early season victory over Class 6A Avon Grove. The Hurricanes are the number two seed, and will host Nazareth Academy in the first round Wednesday.
Alyssa Viscardo has been as solid as they come in the circle, while Bri Wright is one of the most clutch hitters in the area.
“Villa has handled the pressures of close games with highlighted plays and clutch hits to come out on top,” said Hurricane Coach Nicole Hartshorn. “We are prepared for post season pressure and we have each other’s backs all the way. ‘Got your back!’ is our slogan this year and we look forward to the challenges ahead!”