It was another strong softball season in Progressland as five of the seven area teams made the postseason and two — Clearfield and Glendale — made runs in the PIAA playoffs.
The Lady Bison won their first District 9 title since 2007 and the Lady Vikings made it to the D-6 title game for the third season in a row.
As usual, there were plenty of spectacular individual efforts that earned a plethora of area players all-star recognition in their respective leagues and districts. And six players were selected to the Pennsylvania High School Softball Coaches Association all-state team.
Clearfield’s Emma Hipps, Curwensville’s Joslynne Freyer and Abby Pentz, Glendale’s Lexi Mulhollen and Olivia Reese and Philipsburg-Osceola’s Kam Harris all made the all-state team.
Those six, along with an additional eight players make up the 2019 Progressland All-Star first team.
All six all-staters certainly had seasons that had them in the running for the Player of the Year, but in the end Harris’ strong combination of pitching and hitting put her over the top. It is her third Progressland Player of the Year award.
The Coach of the Year goes to Lady Bison head man Derek Danver, who is in just his second year leading the program.
Curwensville leads the all-star list with four selections, while Glendale and P-O each have three on the first team. Clearfield and West Branch round out the team with two selections each.
Here is a closer look at each first-team selection:
Player of the Year: Kam Harris, senior, Philipsburg-Osceola: The Lady Mountie senior capped a remarkable career by being named to the all-state team for a fourth time and by grabbing her third straight Progressland Player of the Year award.
Once again one of the toughest around in the circle, Harris compiled a 10-5 record in her 16 starts while posting a 2.37 ERA. She struck out 148 batters in her 100 1/3 innings of work and walked only 23, eight of which were intentional.
Harris posted 13 complete games and three shutouts. One of her complete games came in a 3-1 win over Clearfield where she was locked in a pitcher’s duel with fellow Progressland first-teamer Emma Hipps, knocking in all three runs on a double and homer.
At the plate, Harris collected 32 hits and batted .542, second only to Freyer in average. She hit four doubles and five home runs and finished with a slugging percentage of .864. Harris also had 22 RBIs, good for fourth in the area.
Harris ends her P-O career as the career home run leader with 25 and amassed a total of 126 hits and 119 RBIs.
Coach of the Year: Derek Danver, Clearfield: With just one starting senior, two letterwinners and six freshmen in the lineup, many thought the 2019 season was a building year for the second-year head coach.
And while the Lady Bison were just 7-7 in the rugged Mountain League, they improved every time they took the field and were playing their best softball at season’s end.
Clearfield won its ninth District 9 title in program history and first since 2007 when in beat top seed Karns City 5-1. The Lady Bison went on to pick up wins against Chestnut Ridge and WPIAL champ Avonworth in the PIAA playoffs, making it to the state semifinals for the first time in history.
There, the Lady Bison lost a heartbreaking 1-0 decision to Bald Eagle Area, a team which beat them twice in the regular season on the way to earning a share of the Mountain League crown. Clearfield ended the season with a 14-10 record after it was just 6-7 at the midway point.
Pitcher: Emma Hipps, freshman, Clearfield: After giving up 17 runs (just 7 earned) on 13 hits in her varsity debut against Bald Eagle Area, Hipps was lights out for most of the season. She compiled just a 13-9 record, but that was due to a lack of run support and some early season defensive lapses.
Somehow left off the Mountain League All-Star team, Hipps allowed two earned runs or fewer in 16 of her 22 starts and twirled 17 complete games. She struck out 10 or more batters 14 times and finished the campaign with a program single-season record 241 strikeouts, while walking just 43.
In the postseason, Hipps allowed just 6 runs (5 earned) on 19 hits in 32 2/3 innings of work, while striking out 58 batters. In the PIAA class AAA semifinal 1-0 loss to BEA, Hipps threw 73 pitches and only had five called balls.
Also a threat with the bat, Hipps hit .408 with nine doubles and six home runs. She scored 26 runs, which was second only to Pentz, and knocked in 17. Her six homers were tied for the top spot in the area, while her nine doubles were third highest.
Catcher: Bailey Bloom, junior, Curwensville: After starting the season blazing hot with 15 hits in her first 30 at bats, the Lady Tide backstop cooled off a little over the second half of the season, but still led all area catchers in most offensive categories.
Her .348 batting average was second to West Branch’s Elishea Reed (who hit .403) and her 17 RBIs was just behind Clearfield’s Olivia Bender (18), but her seven doubles, two triples and 22 runs were all position bests that were also in the Top 10 among all area batters.
She was also a stalwart on defense and was not charged with an error the entire season.
First Base: Roselyn Weaver, junior, Philipsburg-Osceola: After patiently waiting her turn on loaded Lady Mountie teams, the P-O junior announced her presence in a big way, smashing home runs in her first three games as a varsity starter.
Weaver went 7-for-10 with a double, three homers and 8 RBIs in games against Mountain League foes Bellefonte, Huntingdon and Bald Eagle Area to start the season and had four big flys and 14 RBIs by the seventh game of the campaign.
While not being able to keep up the torrid pace, Weaver still ended up leading the area in home runs (along with Hipps and teammate Maddie Lucas) with six and was second in RBIs with 31. She also clubbed eight doubles, tying her for fifth in that category and ended the season with a .380 batting average to go along with a .746 slugging percentage.
Middle Infield: Olivia Reese, sophomore, Glendale: How do you one-up a freshman season that ended in an all-state selection? By setting the program’s single-season record in hits in your sophomore campaign.
Reese had 41 hits this year to set the new standard at Glendale and tie Freyer for most in Progressland. Reese had 16 multiple-hit games this season and ended with an average of .441, which was sixth-highest in Progressland.
A Progressland first teamer last year, Reese led the area in stolen bases with 11 and was in the Top 10 in both runs and RBIs. She was fifth in runs with 23 and tied for sixth in RBIs with 21.
Also a defensive wiz, Reese committed just two errors at second base and ended the season with a fielding percentage above .980.
Middle Infield: Abby Pentz, sophomore, Curwensville: The Lady Tide shortstop came out of the gate on fire at the plate, with 21 hits in her first 32 at bats, good for a .656 average.
She finished the season at the top of the leaderboard in most offensive categories. She led the area in runs with 28 and was fourth in both hits (36) and batting average (.474). Pentz also topped the leaderboard in triples, along with teammate Taylor Luzier, with five and was second to teammate Freyer in doubles with 11. She also swiped 10 bases, trailing only Reese in that category.
Middle Infield: Alaney Vereshack, junior, Glendale: An RBI machine in her first two seasons at the varsity level, Vereshack continued to produce as a junior. Vereshack collected 27 more RBIs in 2019 to match her output from last year and give her 90 for her three-year varsity career. Her 27 RBIs were third in the area this season.
Vereshack also found herself near the top of the leaderboard in hits (39) and batting average (.476), claiming third in both those categories as well. She added six doubles and two home runs, good for ties for eighth and seventh, respectively, in each of those categories.
Third Base: Ruthie Betts, senior, West Branch: A consistent threat in the middle of the Lady Warrior lineup, Betts hit safely in 15 of her team’s 21 games and enjoyed seven multiple-hit contests, including a 4-for-4, 4 RBI day against rival Moshannon Valley.
Betts finished the season with 29 hits, 18 runs, 16 RBIs and 5 stolen bases to lead all area third baseman in three of those categories and trail only Curwensville’s Mackenzie Wall in RBIs (20). She also batted .426, good for seventh among all area players.
Defensively, Betts could make all the plays at the hot corner and committed just two errors all season long, while putting up a rock-solid .962 fielding percentage.
Outfield: Taylor Luzier, freshman, Curwensville: One of three freshmen to make the first team, Luzier put together a solid rookie season after going hitless in her first three games. She batted .522 over her final 17 games of the year, finishing with a .471 average (fifth-best in Progressland).
Luzier and teammate Pentz led the area in triples with five. She also had four doubles and a home run, while scoring 15 times and recording 21 RBIs, which is tied for sixth in the area. Luzier had a sparkling OBA of .556 and slugged .804.
Outfield: Karly Rumsky, senior, Clearfield: After getting off to a bit of a slow start to the season, going 1-for-10 in her first three games, the lone Lady Bison senior in the starting lineup had two hits in three of her next four games. She hit safely in 16 of her team’s 24 games, scoring 19 runs along the way.
Her defense in the outfield was unmatched with good range and an accurate arm. She committed just one error all season.
But it was her intangibles that were off the chart as she led a freshmen-laden lineup to a District 9 title and two wins in the PIAA playoffs. She was 7-for-17 in the postseason and had the Lady Bison’s only two hits in their 1-0 loss to Bald Eagle Area in the PIAA class 3A semifinals.
Outfield: Hannah Minarchick, sophomore, Philipsburg-Osceola: Despite playing sparingly to start the season, mostly pinch hitting or pinch running, Minarchick quickly forced herself into the starting lineup by getting hits in her first three pinch-hitting attempts and scoring a run in her first four games.
Minarchick became one of the Lady Mounties’ most consistent hitters and finished the season with a .407 batting average, which was good for tenth among all Progressland batters and second to only Luzier among area outfielders. She also had six doubles, two triples and a home run to produce a .648 slugging percentage.
She also found herself sixth in stolen bases with seven, and eighth in runs with 21.
Outfield: Mallarie Maines, senior, West Branch: A tough out at the bottom of the Lady Warrior lineup, Maines hit safely in 10 of her first 11 games and finished the season with 21 hits and a .382 batting average.
Her patience at the plate helped her to a .452 on base average, and she was one of the area’s best base stealers, taking nine without being caught. She added four doubles, scored 11 runs and knocked in 12 more.
Designated Player: Joslynne Freyer, freshman, Curwensville: Simply stated, Freyer was the toughest out in Progressland this season. The Lady Tide freshman burst on the scene with 20 hits in her first 26 at bats (a .769 average) and she never stopped clubbing.
Freyer tied Reese for the area lead in hits with 41 and was tops in batting average, hitting at a .586 clip. She also led the area in RBIs with 32, was tops in doubles with 13 and was third in triples with four. She had an on base average of .615, a slugging percentage of .929 and an amazing OPS of 1.544.
Also the team’s starting pitcher, Freyer was 10-8 with a 3.89 ERA, striking out 126 batters in 111 1/3 innings of work.
Utility Player: Lexi Mulhollen, senior, Glendale: The last of five seniors on the Progressland All-Star team, Mulhollen put a stamp on her career by becoming the Lady Vikings’ all-time leader in hits with 122. She smacked 34 this season, good for fifth in Progressland, despite missing four games with a broken thumb and batting in her final six games with the injury.
The injury cut her career in the circle short, although she did pitch six innings of relief against Conemaugh Valley in the District 6 semifinals while throwing with her thumb in a splint, earning the win and sending the Lady Vikings to the title game. She went 11-2 in the circle with a 2.76 ERA.
In the batter’s box, Mulhollen had eight doubles and two home runs and ended the season with a .425 batting average, good for eighth in the area. She also scored 26 runs, which tied her with Hipps for second-most, and added 17 RBIs, which was just outside the Top 10.
The second team is led by a pair of No. 2 pitchers who stepped in when needed and put up sparkling ERAs to help their teams down the stretch.
Philipsburg-Osceola’s Kylie Adams was 7-0 with a with a 1.03 ERA in her nine appearances for the Lady Mounties, while Glendale’s Kyla Campbell went 9-2 with a 1.67 ERA.
Joining that duo on the second team are Clearfield’s Lauren Ressler (first base), Curwensville’s Logan Sheeder (middle infield), Glendale’s Lilley Vereshack (outfield) and Madison Lukehart (outfield), Moshannon Valley’s McKenzie McCoy (third base), Philipsburg-Osceola’s Maddie Lucas (outfield) and West Branch’s Julia Herring (middle infield) and Elishea Reed (catcher).