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Southern Lehigh Softball Fields a Memorable Season

Quinn Schmidt, Staff Reporter

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Southern Lehigh softball has been a legendary program under current head Coach Brian Neefe for the past 46 years. The most successful softball coach in Pennsylvania with 775 wins, Neefe has brought Southern Lehigh to the top of the Colonial League with his emphasis on exceptional baserunning and bunting. He just recently coached his 1,000th game as a Spartan  and has won 27 titles over that span. The distinguished coach has won more league championships than all of the other schools in the Colonial League combined, and this season he expects another one.  

“I think our weakness in some positions is lack of experience. We’re not in the right place sometimes,” Neefe said. “Physical errors are one thing, that’s not a lack of experience. It’s mental errors when we throw to the wrong base and do things like that, that’s lack of experience.”

Despite having no seniors on the roster, Neefe has led the Spartans into the “Top 10 Teams to Watch in the Valley” according to Lehigh Valley Live. The young pitching staff has fallen just short of perfection, led by sophomore Rachel Bassler. She has tossed four wins so far, her best performance being a three-hitter in a 1-0 victory over second-ranked Northern Lehigh early in the season.

Behind her, their youthful infield has proved to be their strongest asset, with junior Danielle Barnes leading the charge. As a freshman, Barnes was able to put up unreal numbers in the circle. She was the winning pitcher of 18 games, and she managed a 1.4 earned run average with 149 strikeouts in 139 innings. However, her sophomore year was cursed with injuries that kept her on and off the field for most of the season. So at the start of her junior year she approached Coach Neefe with a different option.

“I didn’t pitch this year because I knew there were more people capable of doing it,” Barnes said. “I told Mr. Neefe I wanted to play shortstop because I knew we needed that spot filled from last year.”

Barnes has filled the position beautifully. She has bounced back from last season and become a leader for the Spartans at shortstop as well as at the plate. In her first four games, she racked up seven RBI’s while batting an incredible .728 average and becoming the Morning Call’s Player of the Week.

Other key roles are being occupied by underclassmen as well. Sophomore Sydney Stine has meshed flawlessly with her infield comrades, and fellow sophomore Lia Boyd has been seamlessly leading the outfield along with junior left fielder Chloe McNulty. Behind the plate, junior Maddy Binder has bonded with Bassler to form a nearly unstoppable pitcher-catcher duo.  

The Spartans are currently 10-3, but they have goals of going farther than any Colonial League team has ever gone.

“We have a lot of kids on the team who have lofty goals,” said Neefe. “Most of the kids aren’t happy with just getting to the league tournament, the district tournament, the state tournament. We have a lot of kids this year with aspirations of getting there and winning.”

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Southern Lehigh Softball Fields a Memorable Season