District 4 teams outside Williamsport, Loyalsock and Warrior Run can rest a little easier. After four years of watching Alexis Bower, Amanda Daneker and Taylor Parker ravage them, opponents no longer have to deal with that triple threat. All three have graduated but all three again had dominant seasons and showed why they will one day be District 4 Softball Hall of Famers.
"Those three raised the bar," Williamsport coach Quint Bower said. "You would be hard-pressed to find three players who equaled what they did not just this year, but the last three years."
Is there any doubt than who headlines this year's awards?
Alexis Bower is the 2013 softball player of the year.
Sun-Gazette Coach of the Year
Second Runner-up: Scott Stugart, South Williamsport: Only a flawed seeding system prevented South (15-7) from reaching the District 4 Class A championship and the state tournament. Stugart did a fantastic job getting his team to peak at the right time while navigating through the fiercely competitive HAC-II. South recorded big wins over Class AA playoff qualifiers Central Columbia, Southern Columbia and Wellsboro while blanking HAC-III champion Muncy. South has increased its win total the last two seasons and is in good hands with Stugart who molded this team together.
First Runner-up: Chris Glenn, Jersey Shore: What looked like might be a rebuilding year became a lot more. Glenn helped a young team bounce back from a 1-3 start to capture the District 4 Class AAA championship while defeating the HAC-I champion and runner-up in districts. Glenn pushed the right buttons to turn the season around and had his team playing its best at the perfect time. Jersey Shore also set a program record for home runs and extra-base hits. Glenn has led the Bulldogs to two district championships in three years.
And the Winner is...Tom O'Malley, Loyalsock: The baseball lifer became quite the softball coach in his first year. O'Malley led Loyalsock (17-6) to its first HAC-II championship and to the brink of a District 4 Class AA title. O'Malley got the most out of his young players and helped build one of the area's best offenses while helping freshmen like Kayla Gee and Kendall Watkins flourish. Loyalsock made a five-win improvement, swept the regular season series from Warrior Run and eliminated former nemesis Central Columbia from districts. And the Lancers looked like they had a great time accomplishing it all.
Honorable Mention: Craig Weaver, Montgomery; Chris Ebner, Muncy; Garth Watson, Warrior Run; Quint Bower, Williamsport; Greg Carr, Wellsboro
Sun-Gazette Pitcher of the Year
Second runner-up-Amanda Kustanbauter, Muncy: The junior pitcher came on strong late in 2012 and became one of the district's premier pitchers this past season. Kustanbauter went 16-3 with a 1.78 ERA and tossed seven shutouts, including three straight to open the season. Kustanbauter helped lead Muncy to its first HAC-III championship since 2009 and struck out 105 in 102 1/3 innings while allowing only 72 hits. She also threw a 1-hitter against district finalist Bloomsburg.
First runner-up-Taylor Parker, Warrior Run: As good as she was last year when winning the Class AA state Player of the Year, Parker might have been even better this season. The Bloomsburg-bound pitcher was unreal at times, throwing 13 shutouts, two perfect games, eight no-hitters and four one-hitters. Parker mowed through nearly every lineup she faced and finished with a career-high 260 strikeouts and a 1.07 ERA. The four-year phenom struck out 899 during her scholastic career and threw 19 no-hitters while going 73-18. She also threw two postseason shutouts, allowed just two runs in 28 innings and ended districts by throwing 21 straight scoreless innings. During one stretch this year, Parker surrendered just four hits in five games.
And the Winner is...Alexis Bower, Williamsport: The senior workhorse had a year that future area players will struggle duplicating. Bower was in a league of her own at times, going 17-3 with a 0.45 ERA while allowing just 45 hits in 138 2/3 innings. The three-year starter held opponents to a .095 average and struck out 225. She had a 51-inning scoreless streak at one point and allowed only two runs in her last 83 innings. Bower threw no-hitters on the same day at the Williamsport Tournament and never allowed more than six hits in a game. The bigger the game, the tougher the situation, the better she pitched. There were no easy games and Bower constantly was challenged in the state's toughest classification, but she was outstanding every time.
Sun-Gazette Player of the Year
Second runner-up-Amanda Daneker, Loyalsock: A lock for a fourth straight all-state selection, Daneker is the best high school catcher this reporter has ever seen and arguably the best player in Loyalsock history. Daneker has a hose for an arm and let only one person steal off her the last two seasons. She also was like a coach on the field, handled the pitchers well and blocked just about any pitch in the dirt. Daneker also was one of the district's most feared hitters. She hit .600 with five home runs, 11 doubles, three triples, 34 RBIs and 34 runs. All that despite often being pitched around. She struck out just twice and had a .683 on-base percentage.
First runner-up-Taylor Parker, Warrior Run: When she was not shutting down opponents, Parker often was pounding them. The senior topped .500 for a second straight year and hit for power while also having the blazing speed to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples. Parker hit .575 with a team-high 39 hits. Despite often being walked, Parker (153 career hits) also belted five home runs, five triples and 12 doubles while driving in 36 runs. Parker is Warrior Run's best all-time player and, with all due respect to Laura Harris, when taking Parker's offense into consideration it is not even close. The Defenders had no history before Parker and her stellar senior class came along. She set the standard and raised the bar while becoming a Warrior Run legend.
And the Winner is...Alexis Bower, Williamsport: Pennsylvania's Gatorade Player of the Year also was one of the state's best hitters. Like Daneker and Parker, Bower often was pitched around and rarely had good pitches to choose from. Despite that, she hit .613 with a district-high nine home runs, six doubles and three triples. Bower, a five-tool player who was adept at taking the extra base, had a 1,242 slugging percentage, drove in 24 runs and scored 26 times. Bower, who will play at St. Francis next spring, had a .675 on-base percentage and homered in five straight games late in the season. Williamsport has a proud tradition filled with outstanding past players. And Bower is right there with the best of them.
Starting lineup: 1. Holly Peacock, IF, Jersey Shore (.388, 4 2Bs, 5 3Bs, 2 HRs, 14 RBIs, 16 SBs, never caught; .450 average in HAC-I, 1st team HAC-I); 2. Taylor Parker, IF, Warrior Run; 3. Alexis Bower, P, Williamsport; 4. Amanda Daneker, C, Loyalsock; 5. Jackie Clemens, IF, Warrior Run (.535, 33 RBIs, 112 career hits, 1st team HAC-II); 6. Kalynn Wheeland, IF, South Williamsport (.530, .597 obp, 970 slugging, .704 RISP, 5 HR, 6 2B, 4 3B, 32 RBIs, 25 R, 8 SBs, 1st team HAC-II); 7. Maggie Smith, OF, Wellsboro (.400, 6 HRs, 2 3B, 4 2B, 21 RBI, 17 R, .486 obp, .833 slugging); 8. Katy Swartz, OF, Warrior Run (.451, 32 RBIs, 1st team HAC-II); 9. Kayla Allen, OF, Jersey Shore (.325, 2 2Bs, 2 3Bs, HR, 12 RBI, only 2 Es in 2 years, Shore all-time leader in steals, more than 40 SBs last 2 years, never caught, 1st team HAC-I)
First Team Reserves: Ashleigh Bair, IF, Loyalsock (.319, 2 HR, 3 2B, 12 RBI, 24 R, tremendous defense); Jourdan Boehmer, OF, South Williamsport (.408, .453 obp, .421 RISP, 3 2B, 1 3B, 21 R, 11 RBIs, 8 SBs, terrific defense); Mikayla Bower, IF, Williamsport (.403, 6 2B, 3 3B, 19 RBI, 13 R, .419 obp); Allison Czap, IF, Loyalsock (.343, 2 HR, 6 2B, 1 3B, 21 RBI, 20 R); Rachel Danneker, C, St. John Neumann (1st team HAC-III); Rachel Floyd, OF, South Williamsport (.384, .458 obp, .684 RISP, 26 R, 21 RBIs, 6 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 SBs); Crystal Good, C, Muncy (.500, 3 HR, 3 3B, 5 2B, 19 RBIs, 30 R, .845 slugging. 522 obp, 21-21 SBs, just 2 ks, 1st team HAC-III); Kaylie Harer, IF, Montgomery (.424, .554 obp, 21 R, 5 2Bs, 1 3B, 18 RBIs, 7 SBs, 1st team HAC-III); Rachel Hite, OF, Montgomery (.443, .536 obp, .689 slugging, 21 R, 7 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 5 SBs); Addie Jordan, IF, Sullivan County (.536, .714 obp, 8 RBI, 1st team HAC-III); Sarah March, C, South Williamsport (.458, .506 obp, .861 slugging, 5 HRs, 10 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 20 RBIs, 26 R, .982 fielding, 1st team HAC-II); Devin Nicholas, IF, Warrior Run (.400, 10 doubles, 11 RBIs, 102 career hits, 1st team HAC-II); Liz Shank, OF, Muncy (.441, 15 RBI, 12 R, 4 2B, .537 obp, 1st team HAC-III); Gabby Shrawder, OF, Warrior Run (.337, 2 HRs, 14 RBIs, 1st team HAC-II) Hannah Yost, IF, Jersey Shore (.289, .325 in HAC-I, 5 2Bs, 1 3B, 2 HRs, 13 RBI, strong defense, 1st team HAC-I)
Starting Rotation: A. Bower, Williamsport; Parker, Warrior Run; Kustanbauter, Muncy; Kayla Gee, Loyalsock (12-5, 2.35 ERA, 105 2/3 IP, 84 H, 98 Ks, 3 ERs in 3 district games); Rebecca Caputo, Jersey Shore (13-5, 1.73, 20 straight postseason scoreless innings, 3-0 in districts)
Bullpen: Anna Steer, South Williamsport (12-7, 3.22, 119 2/3 IP, 71 Ks, 4 straight wins over playoff teams late in season); Brooke Kohler, Wellsboro (5-3, 2 SVs, 1.88 ERA, 59 2/3 IP, 72 Ks); Emily Shnyder, Montgomery (10-10, 3.38 ERA, 120 Ks, 118 IP, 1st team HAC-III)
Second Team: Brianna Baumunk, OF, Sullivan County (.387, .419 obp, 9 R); Taylor Brooks, OF, Williamsport (.324, 10 R, 9 SBs, .387 obp); Caitlin Dauberman, IF, Muncy (.375, HR, 3 2B, 1 3B, 20 RBI, 23 R, 17 SBs, .446 obp); Kelsey Gantz, IF, South Williamsport (.356, .493 obp, 13 R, 9 RBI, 6 2Bs, 1 3B); Haley Gyurina, OF, Muncy; Bryce Hillyard, C, Jersey Shore; Sarah Ingerick, IF, Wellsboro; Kay Kay Lupo, OF, Loyalsock (.296, 12 RBIs, 1st team HAC-II); Payton Lynch, IF, Montoursville; Allie Pagana, IF, Loyalsock (.329, 2 HR, 7 2B, 1 3B; 11 RBI, 32 R, 1st team HAC-II); Kelsey Stine, C, Montoursville; Kendall Watkins, IF, Loyalsock (.338, 4 HR, 6 2B, 1 3B, 20 RBI, 13 R); Lynn Vermilya, C, Warrior Run (.397, 10 2B, 1 HR, 17 RBIs)
Second runner-up-Sarah Ingerick, Wellsboro: The freshman already is an outstanding shortstop and could be one of the district's premier players the next few years if she keeps developing. Ingerick has outstanding range and a big arm and also does offensive damage. Ingerick hit .348 with three home runs, five doubles and two triples while driving in 12 runs.
First runner-up-Haley Gyurina, Muncy: Only a freshman, Gyurina had the difficult task of taking over in center field for four-time all-state selection Hannah Cole. She was up to the task, though, and thrived while also playing some at shortstop. Gyurina is quick, has a good arm and can be an offensive spark, possessing good speed. Gyurina hit .362, stole 12 bases in 12 attempts and added 12 RBIs.
And the Winner is...Bryce Hillyard, Jersey Shore: Another outstanding freshman, Hillyard was instrumental to Jersey Shore's district title push and emerged as a strong catcher as well as a calming influence on Caputo, who also thrived. Hillyard settled in as the team's clean-up hitter and helped it have one of its best offensive seasons ever. She hit .343 with six doubles and a home run while finishing with 18 RBIs. Hillyard delivered a game-winning single in a 1-0 thrilling District 4 Class AAA semifinal win over top-seeded Mifflinburg.
Other Underclassmen to watch in 2014: Jess Allen, Jersey Shore; Shataya Buxton, Williamsport; Katie Cowfer, Jersey Shore; Lizz Cummings, South Williamsport; Reilly Gearhart, Montgomery; Megan Helminiak, St. John Neumann; Averie Lorson, Jersey Shore; Lexi McHenry, Montgomery; Kaliyah Miller, Williamsport; Juneil Ritter, Hughesville; Dionna Satteson, Montgomery; Tierney Schaible, Muncy; Alexa Singer, Wellsboro; Alana Stugart, South Williamsport; McKenzie Tebbs, Williamsport; Cayla Treaster, Montoursville; Kendall Watkins, Loyalsock; Elle Watts, Hughesville; Jess Willits, Jersey Shore
Game of the Year
Loyalsock 6, Central Columbia 4: Daneker and fellow senior Ashleigh Bair had never beaten Central before this midseason game. Central led 2-0 in the fourth inning but Loyalsock stormed back as Kayla Gee and Kay Kay Lupo combined for five hits. Central loaded the bases with one out in the seventh but Gee, Daneker and first baseman Allison Czap turned a game-ending double play on a hard shot to the circle.
South Williamsport 8, Central 7: Like Loyalsock, South had not beaten Central since 2009. In a game that symbolized their season, the Mounties trailed by two three times but never stayed down. They kept fighting back and scored twice in the seventh with two outs to win it. Kelsey Gantz hit the walk-off single while Kalynn Wheeland went 3 for 4 with a home run and four RBIs.
And the Winner is... Warrior Run 2, Loyalsock 0: The other two games had more overall excitement but it's tough to beat a district championship that ends the way this one did. Loyalsock loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh and Allie Pagana ripped a liner to center field that looked like it might fall and score the tying and/or go-ahead runs. Instead, center fielder Gabby Shrawder made her version of "The Catch," and made an amazing diving catch that saved the championship.