Springfield is back, better than ever

Congratulations, you’ve survived winter.

That sounds like a shirt slogan for Delaware County softball teams everywhere. Finally, everyone is back on the field, looking to play meaningful games in early April.

So, what should we expect this season?

Well, Springfield is still the team to beat. The Cougars are loaded. Most of their players can write “state champion softball player’ in their yearbook signatures and Twitter profiles.

Unfortunately, they won’t have the chance to defend their PIAA Class AAA title. The Cougars are in a Class AAAA program for 2015. The transition should be a seamless one for coach Todd Odgers’ squad, but first the Cougars will worry about fending off their Central League rivals.

Three All-Delco returnees in pitchers/shortstops Courtney Scarpato and Tori DePietro, a senior and junior respectively, as well as senior center fielder Taylor Winkelman, give the Cougars plenty of firepower. They’ve rushed out to a 4-0 start with lopsided wins against Strath Haven, Marple Newtown and Interboro, winning by a combined score of 39-3.

Who are Springfield’s top challengers in the Central?

Garnet Valley has a potent lineup with All-Delco junior shortstop Sam Tomasetti (Hofstra recruit) and seniors Ellie Oruska (Rider) and Reva Alderman.

Oruska, a senior, hit a bases-loaded single in the eighth inning to lift GV past Haverford Tuesday afternoon. Tomasetti crushed a pair of over-the-fence homers in that game.

Haverford (1-1) and Ridley (1-0) also pose as threats in the Central League. This could be a big year for sophomore pitcher Leigh Ann Jenkins, who is entering her second season in the circle for the Green Raiders, who are coming off an 11-win campaign. Senior shortstop Taylor Eubanks, whose younger sister Courtney was a standout pitcher at Ridley a few years back, is in line for a big year. Ridley has nine returning starters, including sluggers Lauren O’Brien and Lexi Goerlach, who also has experience pitching.

Don’t sleep on Marple Newtown (1-2), which has two-sport All-Delco Rylee Power crushing bombs on a daily basis, at its disposal.

Radnor is in a rebuild phase after winning the District One Class AAA title last spring. John Schaefer, father of All-Delco pitcher Izzy, who is a freshman at Franklin & Marshall, is the new head coach. Schaefer was an assistant at Radnor the previous few years.

Senior Katie Jordan, who hit the game-winning homer to lift Radnor past Springfield in the district final, is moving from first base to shortstop. Another key returnee is senior catcher Holly Pachella, whom Schaefer is counting on in a transition year.

“Seven of the nine positions will be new on the field,’ Schaefer said. “And we have two new, inexperienced pitchers in sophomore Brooke Nicander and Amanda Davis.’

The Raiders began the year with a few tough losses on their spring break trip in Richmond, Va.

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In the not-breaking-news category, Chichester is the Del Val League favorite. It has the chance to make a deep postseason run with All-Delco senior pitcher Meg Wimmer leading the way.

Wimmer, a Brown University signee, has two shutouts in the early going as the Eagles picked up three straight wins. Maddie Thornton, a senior third baseman and 1,000-point scorer during the basketball season, sophomore catcher Nicole O’Donnell and junior shortstop Alex Maher give the Eagles plenty of thump and experience.

Coach Chuck Pedrick is still around, so one can never doubt or dismiss Interboro, which has Becca and Rachel Reifer sharing the pitching workload. The Bucs also expect senior slugger Brandi James, who suffered an injury during basketball season, in the lineup at some point.

Academy Park and Penn Wood hope to make considerable strides, but it’s hard to imagine either competing with Chichester or Interboro.

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Episcopal Academy made the most of its spring break in Disney World. The Churchwomen went 8-0 and outscored opponents, 81-16.

Reigning Daily Times Player of the Year and senior pitcher Alex Viscusi is off to a torrid start. The Princeton recruit has mashed five homers (gulp) and nine doubles (double gulp) in 10 games.

Taylor Long is enjoying a great start at the plate, manning the shortstop position and pitching in relief of Viscusi.

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Bonner-Prendergast earned impressive wins over Little Flower and Episcopal Academy, which was the No. 2 team (behind Springfield) in our preseason Super 7.

Jess Knapp, the rare southpaw hurler, looks strong and Carrie Quinn is swinging a hot bat and making a difference on the basepaths. She stole home in the victory over EA.

Cardinal O’Hara won its first two games before falling to league favorite Archbishop Ryan. Archbishop Carroll stumbled to a 0-3 start.

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Sun Valley has made some good first impressions.

A longtime Delco softball power, the program had fallen on hard times, two years removed from a District One title. Last spring, the Vanguards managed to squeak out one win. In 2015, they’ve doubled that total in their first three games.

The hitting of Brooke Duplicki and Amber Michael led to successes against Unionville and Henderson at the start of the week.

To contact Matt Smith, email msmith@delcotimes.com. Follow him on Twitter @DTMattSmith.

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