While it may have been a rebuilding year for the Solanco Lady Golden Mules, opposing coaches recognized and acknowledged southern end softball talent by selecting six players to the all-Section II team following the regular season. Heading the list was Janelle Krantz, a freshman, who moved up from the junior varsity and made an immediate impact with both her glove and bat. According to head coach, Brett Miller, Krantz was a solid defensive player with a high batting average and delivered one "walk off" game winning hit. Krantz, a centerfielder, was named to the first team after leading the Lady Mules with a .364 batting average that included one triple, one home run and four RBI.
Second team honors went to senior Ali Marano and sophomore Mallory Benard. Marano, who also won the Solanco Outstanding Senior Award, was an outstanding contact hitter with a good left-handed throwing arm. The starting right fielder led the team in base hits with 16 for a .314 average.
Bernard provided the power in the Solanco line-up. Batting from the left side, Benard, a sophomore, led the team in RBI with 12 and extra base hits with nine that included two doubles, five triples and two homeruns. Miller stated she has an excellent swing from the left side of the plate and opposing pitchers were very cautious with the Solanco clean-up hitter when she stepped inside the box.
Three players were named Section II honorable mention. Abby Bauermaster, a junior, batted .308, all singles. Miller calls her the cornerstone of the team. She is a dependable first baseman with a good glove and one of the best contact hitters in the league according to the coach.
Catching is an integral part of every game and Solanco has a good one.
Morgan Jackson finished the season by elevating her offensive numbers at the plate following a slow start. The Lady Mule back-stopper ended with a .220 average with one double and one triple. Miller says the sophomore has a good quick and strong throwing arm to second base.
Ashlee Snider was the latest of the junior varsity players to make the grade. Coming up for defensive purposes midway through the season, the infielder made an immediate impact with solid defensive plays and a solid offensive contribution. Snider, a sophomore, ended the season with a .243 average with a double, triple and home run knocking in seven runs.
"In a "rebuilding" year, you look for improved play throughout the season," wrote Miller in a recent e-mail. "Finishing with three wins in a row and reversing our "Section" record of 1-4 to 3-2 in the second half including a tough 4-3 loss to E-town, it appears we're moving in an improving direction."
Miller credits Emily Smoker as a key part of the team's improvement. "Pitchers have a major impact on the success of a softball game and season," said Miller. "Emily slowly and steadily improved her pitching throughout the season. She became more "relaxed" on the mound even though she maintains an excellent control of emotions and presence on the mound." Miller says Smoker never seems "rattled" or upset, but she has the desire to win and succeed. A sophomore, Smoker ended the season with an 8-8 record including one shutout. She struck out 48 and walked 17. Her ERA was a respectable 1.56.
Miller expressed gratitude to his graduating seniors who contributed to a good season. "They made this year very enjoyable and helped the underclassmen develop," said the coach. In addition to Marano, leaving the Lady Mule program are Kate Snyder, Crystal Clawson, Arienne Wrigley and Danielle Fisher. Fisher appeared in 16 games either at second base or catcher. She ended with a .250 batting average. Wrigley, an outfielder, also appeared in 16 games and ended the season with an. 083 average.
Miller, a veteran coach who is closing in on 300 career wins, has hopes for an even better season in 2007. "The underclassmen need to continue to improve throughout the summer and work in the off season on developing physical skills of strength and speed to accompany their learning of the game."
In addition, to Benard, Krantz, Jackson, Bauermaster and Snider other returnees include Ashley Stump, Brittany Hamilton, Amber Ballantyne, Samantha Guy, Melissa Kline, Amber Greenleaf, Amber Roland, and Kate Workman. Greenleaf suffered a debilitating season-ending injury early into the 2006 season. She will vie for time inside the circle next season.