Blue Devils softball has eye on the title

By John Bernhardt
“We’ll surprise people this year,” Margaretville softball coach Bill Lonecke insisted when talking about his 2013 team. Lonecke’s confidence is forged by experience and five consecutive Blue Devil Upper Division Delaware League championships. The Margaretville coach and his team have their sights set on number six.

Lonecke says that when people discuss the upcoming softball season, his team is sometimes omitted from the conversation. “Lots of people are looking at what we lost to graduation last season, instead of paying attention to the girls we’ll have on the field,” chuckled the Margaretville coach.

Five seniors graduated from last year’s team including the pitching and catching battery. And, Lonecke’s 2013 roster includes only nine names. Even so, Lonecke likes the athleticism on his squad and is pleased with the energy and work ethic the girls bring to practice every day.
Rachel Mathiesen will be moving from third base to the pitching mound to replace last year’s ace, Danielle Hull. Mathiesen has worked hard on her game during the off-season, and Lonecke likes his new pitcher’s command of the strike zone.

“Rachel has a strong arm, and she’s going to do well,” Lonecke explained. Lonecke says Mathiesen will be helping her own cause with her bat. The senior pitcher has power at the plate, but can slap out a single when needed.

Shared duties
Two Blue Devils, Alexis Molnar and Tess Svoboda, will share the catching and third base duties. Both Margaretville backstops are seniors with strong arms and an evolving understanding of the catching game. Whichever girl is not catching during any particular game will be stationed at third. Molnar has a power bat, and Svoboda combines a good eye, contact hitting, and blazing speed as offensive assets.

Cecilia Galatioto shows a lot of promise around the bag at first. The junior takes charge defensively and moves aggressively to the ball. Lonecke likes how his first baseman makes contact at the plate.
A cannon-like throwing arm, and heaping doses of energy and spirit serve junior Kate Short well at second base. The junior missed last season to injury and is eager to make her mark this spring.

Strong at short
Senior Kellsey Buerge is back for her third season at shortstop.

“I’ve watched Kellsey grow into the position, and I’m really impressed with what she does every day,” Lonecke said. The Margaretville coach says his unassuming middle infielder has as much power in her bat as any girl on the roster.

Lonecke will go with a sophomore outfield, three girls who can run down the softball and have strong arms. Elia Tanzer will be patrolling the real estate in centerfield. The sophomore outfielder has a strong arm and blazing speed.

Cora Bruno will be in left and Kim Fairbairn will be stationed in right. A natural athlete, Bruno’s strong throwing arm and the ability to hit line drives have impressed her coach. Fairbairn, who caught for the modified team last spring, has a good stick and has been working hard on her defense.

Crossing the plate
Part of Lonecke’s strategy is to manufacture runs.

“We’ve probably manufactured more runs with heads up base running than by smacking pitches for extra base hits,” the Margaretville coach explains. Lonecke credits assistant coach Kyle Holden, the team’s third-base coach, for the Blue Devils aggressive base running mindset.
With an experienced squad last spring, Lonecke says his club hit the ground running. This spring, the
Blue Devils coach is hoping to approach the season one ball game at a time, one inning at a time, one batter at a time and one pitch at a time.

As he evaluates Delaware League teams, Lonecke feels Gilboa and Roxbury should be strong on the Mountain Division side. “Jane (Ware) does a great job, and Roxbury will always be a powerhouse,” he explained.

Lonecke noted that Davenport had a young team last spring that gelled during the second half of the year. The Wildcats should be Margaretville’s main competition on the Upper Delaware side.
“I’m really looking forward to a great season and would love to add number six,” Lonecke finished.