Coatesville senior Phoebe Clemens had good reason to be looking forward to the Red Raiders’ softball season this spring.
Last year, Clemens batted .410 with 32 hits (including six home runs and four doubles) as the Red Raiders’ starting center fielder and leadoff hitter, scoring 30 runs and collecting 23 RBI. She received first team All-Area honors from the Daily Local News, and second team AllChes-Mont League recognition.
“I was looking forward to enjoying every moment of my senior season,” said Clemens. “This offseason I really focused on hitting and speed/agility. I was especially excited for the 2020 season because my swing felt better than ever, and, thanks to Coach Eric at Parisi and Coach Vinnie at SwingAway, my sprint times were solid. I was really hoping to help my team win the Ches-Mont title, and I wanted to have at least 42 hits and no unearned strikeouts.”
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus caused the 2020 PIAA spring softball season to be cancelled.
“It’s like a bad dream and is heartbreaking for everyone,” said Clemens. “I never thought that the JV vs. varsity softball scrimmage during our last practice would be the final ‘game’ for us seniors.”
Clemens, who will be playing softball for Lancaster Bible College in the fall, added, “Though I’m very disappointed, I believe that there’s a bigger picture that we can only see a small part of right now and that God is in control. 2020 is still full of possibilities, so we need to make every day count.”
Clemens has created plenty of memorable moments during her Coatesville softball career. Her favorite one was last year, when she slammed a home run during a Pink-Out game at Caln.
“There’s nothing like standing in the batter’s box, under the lights, with tons of fans surrounding the field, and hitting one out,” said Clemens. “As I rounded third and saw my teammates crowding home plate and cheering, all I could think of was how lucky I was to play this game with them – my Coatesville family.”
Clemens’ competitive softball career began to take off at age 10, playing for East Brandywine Youth Athletics.
“Coach Ray Kendall took our All-Star 10-U team to a tournament in Maryland, and I was hooked,” said Clemens.
The Coatesville senior credits many mentors for her softball success.
“My biggest mentor is my dad (John),” said Clemens. “He and my brother (Zach) have always been willing to help me practice – even after the sun went down and we could barely see the ball.
“Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to play for some awesome coaches. Charlie Bock, Shawn Atkinson and Vinnie Belnome always encouraged me to believe in myself and to never quit.
“Coach Bill [Coatesville head coach Bill Mendenhall] helped me to take my game to the next level with advanced strategy. And my Coatesville Lady Steel coach, Norm Lonas, constantly reminds me how important it is to have a good work ethic and that ‘you only get out of something what you put into it.’”
Mendenhall is impressed with Clemens’ work ethic.
“Since I first met Phoebe in the 7th grade, she has committed herself to being a better ball player,” said Mendenhall. “She takes great pride in her physical conditioning in addition to constantly working to improve her softball skills. Phoebe is an extremely coachable young lady who is constantly listening to her coaches and taking our advice to improve her game.”
During the past offseason, Clemens worked a lot on her hitting.
“Batting is a highly technical process,” said Clemens. “I’ve come to learn that it involves not only a combination of correct mechanics and strength, but also the ability to see the pitch and be mentally tough. To be successful against a talented pitcher, the batter has to be in control. My current batting coach, Tracy Clark, has been great at helping me develop more power and accuracy at the plate.”
Clemens, who has played both infield and outfield for Coatesville, enjoyed the center field spot last spring.
“Playing center during our practices was always my favorite because of the different drills Coach Lease put us through – he really helped me to understand the position,” said Clemens. “I loved being able to run full out and snag a fly ball or catch a pop up and throw it in to hold the runners. I also liked being able to view the field from center to keep track of the game. I enjoy the challenge of anticipating where the ball will go based on the batter’s foul balls or what our pitcher is throwing and how fast, etc. It’s very rewarding to read the ball correctly and be in the right place at the right time.”
Clemens is homeschooled, and attended the ECHO (Educating our Children with His Objectives) Christian Academy co-op, where she assisted for several years with the layout and editing of their yearbook, and the production of their “Memorable Moments” video.
At Lancaster Bible College, Clemens will be a Sports Management major, and is also interested in the business and criminal justice fields. She chose LBC after going on many college visits to tour campuses, meeting with coaches at the DI and DIII levels.
“There was just something about the warmth and friendliness of Lancaster Bible College that was special,” said Clemens. “I took a class on their campus last fall, and got to see what being a student there was really like. I also appreciated Coach [Jen] Weitzel’s philosophy and goals for her team. She’s focused not only on developing our skills, but also our character and spiritual growth. Plus, my brother is a business major and plays baseball for LBC. All of that, and the fact that it’s close to home, made Lancaster Bible College the right choice for me.”
Mendenhall said, “I am excited to see what Phoebe does at the collegiate level. She is a leader and strives to see the team succeed.”