Although they often did it in front of smaller crowds and with less fanfare, junior varsity athletes put together another season of exciting growth and achievement this spring. On fields and diamonds around the county, these freshmen and sophomores did their part to set the foundation for the future of their respective programs.
We contacted each school, through its athletic administration, and asked for information on the JV teams. Here's what we heard back:
The Atholton Raiders JV softball team finished the season with a 5-12 record that does not reflect the indelible experience gained in preparing for the varsity.
"With nine freshmen, the young team stretched its promise," coach Patti Mascone said. They turned double plays, went after lead runners and hit the tougher pitching.
"Even though the pressure of representing one's high school was new for many, the team scored runs in every game (a goal of returning players) and averaged over nine runs per contest," Mascone said.
While bunting, slapping and hitting her way on base during an injury-shortened season, leadoff hitter Jessica Throwe led the team in walks (18), runs (25) and stolen bases (21 for 21). The No. 2 batter was also lost midseason, in this case to a broken nose. However, when Danielle Dolbow was in the lineup, the center fielder lit up the offense with a team-leading .394 batting average.
Sophomore Becky Schwab, the team's MVP, anchored the offense in the third spot, pounding out nine extra-base hits and driving in 32 runs. Schwab had a 13-game hitting streak that included hitting the fence with triples three times. Switch-hitting sophomore Melissa Porras batted cleanup, collecting 17 walks and 19 RBIs.
Rookie pitchers Erica Lee, Jennifer Mathews and Stacey Bloom rotated on the mound. By season's end, the trio cut in half the number for walks and hits per innings pitched. Mathews earned the Most Improved Player award for garnering her first win.
Schwab caught almost every inning behind the plate, doing all the things that stats don't record: preventing steals, directing the defense, blocking newly learned drops and grabbing every popup within range. By calling pitches, she also helped the pitchers develop some sneaky change-ups.
Lee, Schwab's most frequent battery mate, also played infield, hit, stole bases and caught. In two appearances behind the plate, she gunned down two runners attempting to steal. She only made one error, hit .390 with a .559 slugging percentage and stole 12 bases.
Other performers include Erica Noppinger, a middle infielder, fourth in defensive stats; Meg Lawrence, a first baseman/outfielder, known for her glove and taking pitchers deep in the count; and Gila Fridkis, who hit safely in 11 of 16 outings.
Centennial posted a 10-7 county and 11-7 overall record. After one of the team's two pitchers was pulled up to varsity the second game of the season, Brita Hawtof pitched the rest of the season and showed drastic improvement.
Sarah Adams hit two home runs during the season.
The team's highlight was beating Mt. Hebron, 9-4. "We beat them at Hebron and many of the girls know each other from travel ball," Centennial coach Tara Fadrowski said.
Breanne Smith, Brittney Everett, Gabby Mistichelli, Meghan Loveless, Claire Swan, Alison Piwowarski and Sara Dietz paced Glenelg to a 13-3-1 record.
"Everyone on the team had a role and they worked together as a team to have such a successful season," coach Ray Gerstner said.
Smith led the team in batting (.667) and on-base percentage (.740). Everett led the squad in runs scored (36) and RBIs (33). Mistichelli was a close second in batting average (.658) and on-base percentage (.720) even after missing three games with a sprained ankle.
Loveless was the starting pitcher and struck out 43 of the 378 batters she faced. Her run average was 1.13 per inning.
Jesse Thompson developed into the team's closer and faced 160 batters. Her run average was 1.2 per inning.