S. ABINGTON TWP. — The Abington Heights softball team has won two consecutive district titles and several players return who contributed to the recent string of success.
Senior Naudia Solan, a second-team All-State selection last season, returns at second base after hitting .449.
Senior Cassidy Bartkowski, who started at shortstop the last three seasons, may remain in that position or shift to third base, where she plays for her travel team.
“She’s been a cornerstone of our team for the last four years and she will do what’s best for the team,” Abington Heights head coach John Kelly said.
Sophomore Maria Tully is expected to start at either shortstop or third base.
Senior Meghan McGinley, a second-team All-State selection last year, returns after posting a 16-2 record with a 2.31 earned run average and 90 strikeouts.
“She works very hard,” Kelly said. “She put a lot of time in over the winter and pitched in a lot of big tournaments for her travel team during the summer.”
Junior Nina Kozar, a first-team All-State selection last season, is back at first base after hitting .418 with four home runs and 25 RBIs.
Kozar believes the team’s balance throughout the lineup has been a key to its success the past few seasons.
“If one girl is off, we’re always there to back each other up,” she said.
Sophomore Catherine Anne Kupinski was a first-team, All-State selection last season after hitting .574 and driving in 21 runs, but suffered a shoulder injury during a scrimmage and has been held out of action the past two weeks.
Sophomore Mara Hamm was a second-team, All-State selection after hitting .518 and driving in 21 runs last season when she primarily served as a designated player and pitcher.
Junior Alison Fiorillo returns with experience in left field.
Freshman Bailey White will likely start in center field.
Junior Jane Mecca along with sophomores Caroline Kelly and Shaelyn Kobrynich are competing for time in right field.
“We graduated four seniors and we’re replacing our entire outfield, but we have some experience coming back,” Kelly said. “It’s going to fall a lot on leadership. We have talented girls who have played a lot, but they have never been in the leadership role. It’s just a matter of them working together.”
Kozar doesn’t believe leadership will be an issue for this year’s team.
“We lost a lot of key players, but we already have girls in their places,” she said. “Our captains (Naudia, Cassidy and Meghan) have been doing a great job keeping our team together. It’s been a really great environment.”
The Lady Comets, who finished last season with a 15-3 record, defeated Pittston Area, 2-1, to win the D2-11 Class 5A championship and fell to Donegal, the eventual state champion, 6-5, in 10 innings in the PIAA quarterfinals.
Two years ago, Abington Heights advanced to the PIAA Class 3A semifinals before losing to Lampeter-Strasburg, 2-1.
The Lady Comets are the defending Lackawanna League Division 1 champs, but Kelly expects Scranton Prep, Valley View and West Scranton to pose strong challenges.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.