READY FOR NEXT YEAR:Tainne Dallas bunts against Depew. The team fell short in their last game but are ready for next season. Journal file photo
SPRINGVILLE—It was not the way Springville’s winningest senior class in six years wanted to go out.
A scheduling conflict caused 12 players on the Springville varsity softball team to miss out on Springville’s playoff opener because of a music trip. With seven starters and five reserves in New York City, Springville coach Tom Szczerbacki had to call up six girls from junior varsity.
Springville went on to fall to Kenmore East, 17-1. Despite the rough end of the year, Springville finished 6-6 in league play and 6-7 overall, the program’s best finish in six years.
“I thought our defense came together towards the end of the year,” Szczerbacki said. “When we were playing clean on D’ and playing solid defensively, we were competing to win games. We got our bats going, too. I thought a key to our success was our short game. When we got our short game going and had runners on base moving around, we scored a lot of runs.”
Springville had a group of five seniors, four of whom were starters and three who have played varsity for three years. Three-year starters include Tainne Dallas, Katrina Kerkendall and Erin Kwiatkowski.
“We’re going to miss their leadership for sure. They were great leaders on and off the field. They were willing to help the younger ladies improve their game,” Szczerbacki said. “They showed great composure in every game. They never got rattled. They just had that positive outlook and kept playing. It didn’t matter if we were down five runs, we always just seemed to finish strong. We’ll miss their leadership and obviously their athletic ability.”
Kwiatkowski played catcher and led the team in hitting with a .400 batting average, she also shared the team-lead in runs scored with 11. Kwiatkowski hit safely in eight of the 12 games she played in.
Kerkendall has been Springville’s ace pitcher for the past three seasons. As a senior, she tossed 13 complete games, compiling 39 strikeouts. At the plate, Kerkendall hit .333 and led the team with 13 RBIs, while batting cleanup. The senior standout also shared the team-lead in runs scored with 11.
“Katrina was our horse on the mound and she had a great year,” Szczerbacki said. “I thought her attitude, her commitment to the game and her commitment to improve at her own position throughout the year was awesome. She just worked so hard. I’m really proud of her.”
Sophomore Kaylee Schreiber will return next season and has experience pitching, but the graduation of Kerkendall and Kwiatkowski, the teams catcher, will be a tough voids to fill.
“Finding a replacement for Katrina will be huge,” Szczerbacki said. “The combination of Katrina and Erin [Kwiatkowski] behind the plate we’ll miss. Erin had an outstanding year calling the pitches. Her and Katrina had a special bond together. Replacing those two will be huge.”
Szczerbacki named Kerkendall and Dallas co-MVPs of the team. Dallas was Springville’s third-leading hitter, while playing a number of positions for Springville including first base. Dallas hit .345 and was second on the team with 10 runs scored.
“Tainne is just an amazing player,” Szczerbacki. “She’s great defensively at first base. She has great footwork, she’s quick and she has a good glove. She has a really positive attitude. She’s willing to help anybody on the team. She was just so solid.”
Sophomore Sara Kwiatkowski was second on the team in hitting, just behind her older sister, with a .358 batting average. Kwiatkowski has experience playing both center field and shortstop and will be one of five starters that will return next season. Junior second baseman/outfielder Gabby Hartman missed the final nine games of the season due to an injury, but Hartman will return for her third year of varsity ball. Other key contributors for next season include Carrie Dickinson, Schreiber, Emma Beckerich, Mariah Gamel and Heaven Rollek.
“I think I have a good, young group coming back,” Szczerbacki said. “ I’m looking forward to it.”