Skip to content

20 area players make All-State Softball Team

Jul. 6—Johannah Taylor and Marla Freiwald just went about their business on the softball diamond, not drawing attention to themselves with any antics but garnering lots of respect for their level of play.

Apparently, the coaches and media around the state were watching, too.

That’s because Taylor, North Schuylkill’s senior catcher, and Freiwald, Blue Mountain’s junior pitcher, received special recognition on the 2023 Pennsylvania High School Softball Coaches Association All-State Team released Wednesday by the PAHSSBCA committee. The local players swept the awards in Class 4A, with Taylor named Player of the Year and Freiwald honored as Pitcher of the Year.

Also named to the first team at their respective positions, Taylor and Freiwald led a list of 20 local players recognized on the Class A to Class 4A teams. No area squads compete in Class 5A or 6A.

The team was selected from more than 550 nominations by high school coaches and media members statewide. The Republican Herald facilitated nominations but did not have a vote for the team.

Taylor batted .583 this season with 42 hits, 12 home runs and 44 RBIs. She also had a 1.000 fielding percentage and threw out nine runners trying to steal.

The 18-year-old from Frackville is attending Penn State University’s Main Campus and has been accepted into the nationally ranked Smeal College of Business.

“I’m thrilled,” said Taylor by phone during a break from freshman orientation at Penn State. “I couldn’t be happier. I’m honored. It just goes to show the last three years, we put in a lot of hard work. So it’s very rewarding to be recognized.”

Freiwald, a driving force in Blue Mountain’s run to the PIAA Class 4A championship, batted .482 with 41 hits, 17 doubles, four home runs and 42 RBIs. In the circle, she went 17-1 with a 0.81 ERA, striking out 201 in 112.1 innings.

“I just feel honored to get that recognition,” Freiwald said by phone. “It’s a great feeling to have and I can’t be more thankful.”

Blue Mountain had three other players make the cut: Olivia Labe, second-team first base; Lindsay Gibson, second-team outfield; and Anna Laughlin, second-team utility. Other Class 4A honorees included Hamburg’s Kylah Reading, first-team outfield; and North Schuylkill’s Shiana DeAngelo, second-team shortstop.

This season, Labe batted .450 with three home runs and 31 RBIs; Gibson hit .356 with 34 runs and 23 RBIs; and Laughlin batted .407 with 34 runs, four home runs and 20 RBIs.

Reading batted an even .500 with 45 runs, nine home runs and 29 RBIs. DeAngelo hit .390 with 36 runs, three home runs and 28 RBIs.

In Class A, state champion Tri-Valley put five players on the first team: pitcher Emma Maurer, catcher Brittany Rice, shortstop Gianna Poletti, third baseman Cassi Snyder and outfielder Grace Header.

Maurer went 12-1 with a 0.99 ERA and 129 strikeouts in the circle and batted .500 with three homers and 17 RBIs. Rice, who slugged a two-run home run in the 6-3 win over Union Area in the state championship game, hit .544 with 47 runs, 12 home runs and 53 RBIs. Poletti batted .553 with 41 runs, three home runs and 28 RBIs. Snyder had a .556 batting average with 42 runs and 32 stolen bases. And Header, who doubled home the go-ahead run in the sixth inning against Union Area, batted .468 with 41 runs, four home runs and 45 RBIs.

Marian’s Morgan Kelly (pitcher) and Nativity’s Caelan Quick (outfield) made the Class A second team. Kelly went 15-6 with a 1.50 ERA and 223 strikeouts in the circle; at the plate, she hit .557 with four home runs and 33 RBIs. Quick batted .492 with 25 runs.

Two Williams Valley players top the Class AA list. Sage Smeltz was voted first-team utility, and Ella Kobularik made the second team at shortstop. Smeltz batted .459 with 29 RBIs and went 13-8 in the circle. Kobularik hit .443 with 30 runs scored.

Also in Class AA, Panther Valley’s Mikayla Yuricheck made the first team at catcher, and Schuylkill Haven’s Chloey Homan was a second-team shortstop. Yuricheck batted .672 with 31 runs, eight home runs and 38 RBIs. Homan hit .508 with four home runs and 24 RBIs.

In Class 3A, Pine Grove teammates Madison Shiffer (first base) and Callee Leffler (outfield) made the first team. Shiffer batted .474 with four home runs and 44 RBIs. Leffler hit .529 with 37 runs, 11 triples, five home runs and 23 RBIs.

Contact the writer: [email protected]; 570-628-6012; @boblipskyRH on Twitter