Wyoming Area seniors and junior, sitting Katelin Coolbaugh; kneeling, Melissa Eiper and Kayla Kross; and standing, Karlie Klocko, Riley Thomas, and Rachel Campbell.photo by tony callaio
Hopes are high on the West Side as Wyoming Area returns seven starters and a bevy of talented underclassmen as second-year coach Ted Kross looks to build on last season’s .500 record which included a District 2 Class 3A first round victory.
“The coaching staff has been working hard preparing our teams thus far in the preseason,” said Kross. “Our motto is ‘Success is when preparation and opportunity meet.’ We have a junior varsity team and a junior high team behind the varsity program which is filled with promise, talent and anticipated success.
“The Wyoming Valley Conference is a very competitive league, and the teams on both sides of the river offer challenges. But if our team plays up to capabilities, we should finish above .500 and be in contention for a district title.”
Leading the way for the Lady Warriors will be senior catcher Melissa Eipper. Eipper is a three-year starter behind the plate and batted .348 in 16 games last season. One of four co-captains, Eipper will be backed up by freshman Nicole Cumbo who can also pitch and may serve as a designated player for WA.
The strength continues for Wyoming Area up the middle with the return of sophomore Alex Holtz in the circle. Holtz posted a 5-2 record with 48 strikeouts as a freshman while sharing the pitching duties for the Lady Warriors. She also played left field for WA and smacked 11 hits while driving in six. Cumbo will also contribute to the pitching staff.
“We have two young, hard-working pitchers in Holtz and Cumbo,” said Kross. “Behind them, we will be a solid defensive team with a much improved offensive attack.
“We are very young, but we are talented. Our young players are great athletes that were in contention for junior high championships the past two years. This team will have capable depth in most positions, and we have scheduled 13 junior varsity games to get our youth some experience.”
Senior co-captain Kayla Kross will anchor the defense in centerfield. The three-year starter batted cleanup while batting .326 as a junior. Kross, also drove in 10 runs and scored nine.
Wyoming Area also returns outfielders Rachel Campbell and Katelin Coolbaugh, and welcomes junior Karlie Klocko, sophomore Lexi Coolbaugh, and freshman Adrienne Pryzbyla into the outfield mix.
Campbell is a junior two-year starter in right field and batted .282 with 10 RBI and nine runs scored as a sophomore. Also a junior, Katelin Coolbaugh played reserve role in left field as a sophomore and batted .400.
Around the diamond, the Lady Warriors are set at shortstop and at the corners.
Sophomore co-captain Serra Degnan returns at shortstop and atop the WA lineup. Degnan led the Lady Warriors with 11 runs scored and eight walks as a freshman, and gives WA speed in the leadoff spot. Pryzbyla will back up Degnan at short.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Cross returns to first base after starting as a freshman, and Riley Thomas, a junior co-captain, is back at the hot corner for her second season as a starter. Kross batted .380 in her first varsity season and second on the team with 16 hits. Thomas smacked eight hits with four walks during her sophomore season.
The one position up for grabs seems to be second base where Coach Kross has Turner and fellow freshman Kat Sokirka both battling for the spot.
“Turner will possibly start at second base,” said Coach Kross. “But Sokirka is a contender to play there as well.”
Kross thinks the mix of his team’s experience and talent has the Lady Warriors ready to compete for both WVC and District 2 titles. Wyoming Area finished 7-7 in WVC Division West action before grabbing a district playoff win. Four of the Lady Warriors seven division losses were by three runs or less.
“There are several strong programs in our division,” said Coach Kross. “Nanticoke, Tunkhannock, Hazleton and Dallas are all contenders. And you can never underestimate Berwick and Wyoming Valley West.
“We match up close in pitching, offense, and defense, and I see several close contests through the regular season into post-season play with outcomes going either way. We are focused on team success and winning a district championship.”