SENECA - Like everyone else, Seneca softball coach Erika Clark is watching the spring sport cancellations due to inclement weather conditions. It’s a little worse for Erika than some since she is also the school’s athletic director, and has to worry about rescheduling baseball games and track meets as well.
When we talked to her awhile back, the school already had cancelled four baseball games and three softball games. Given the conditions, that list has only grown.
Clark, who is entering her fifth year as head coach, has a long history with Seneca softball. So does her co-coach Sarah Wall. Clark even remembers being around for one those trips to the state tournament in the early 90s under coach Diane Yager.
Clark served as an assistant coach under Carl Wall about 10 years ago. Both Eirka Clark and Sarah Wall also coach Little League.
That’s a lot of coaching experience to add to a deep, experienced and talented bench.
Like most teams, Seneca lost a couple of solid players to graduation in third baseman Becky Trautsch and catcher Jena Konichek. Both will be hard to replace in the field and at the plate.
Konichek had a special talent for directing the defense from behind the plate.
“Jena was good at talking to the players,” is the way Clark put it.
Despite the loss of those players, Seneca returns plenty of talent and experience, and that starts with five seniors.
Where to begin? Well, Haley Wall returns as the team’s starting pitcher. In addition to pitching, Wall is no slouch at the plate and a demon on the base paths.
Hard-hitting, sure fielding Michelle Clark returns at first base. She’s already recorded a homerun in one of the first two games played. Wall bats fourth and Clark bats fifth, with Alivia Salinas batting sixth—it’s a pitcher’s nightmare.
The athletic Alivia Salinas will play a combination of shortstop and second base. She is also a relief pitcher.
Emily Garfoot will once again play centerfield. According to Coach Clark, “Emily is the heart and soul of the team’s outfield.”
The fifth returning senior is Kennedi Smith, who played second base last season and will divide time between second base and third base this year.
Then, there are the juniors. Liv Swanson will play shortstop and bat third, and Taylor Sime will divide time between left field and third base and bat sixth at times.
Junior Haylie Smith will play an outfield position.
Three sophomores are on the roster this season. Savanna Wallin has some big shoes to fill, as she will take over at the catcher position. Wallin is also available as a relief pitcher.
Makenna Greene will play third base and outfield, while Lexi Rew-Evers will play an outfield position.
Then, there’s the two freshmen-Anya Aspenson and Nicky Trautsch. Both are familiar to the coaches through Little League play.
Coach Clark described the pair of freshmen as “very coachable.”
Last year’s team finished 13-9 overall and 8-5 in conference play taking third place in the Ridge and Valley Conference.
As for teams to watch in the conference, Clark named the usual suspects-Wauzeka-Steuben, Ithaca and DeSoto. Clark pointed out that Wauzeka-Steuben will have a new coach and assistant coach this season.
The team’s strength has to include the experience of the five returning seniors. Pitching and the play of the infield is another strength of this Seneca team.
Clark also believes team unity on and off the field is important component of this team.
The team’s biggest challenge is probably replacing Konichek the veteran catcher.
“We need to get our new catcher going to get back to what we had,” Clark said.
This Seneca team wants it all when it comes to a team goal. The Seneca Indians want to win conference and advance through regional and sectional to the state tournament. Hold on to your hats!