SANDY CREEK Forming the all-important bond between pitcher and catcher will be as difficult as ever for Frontier League softball teams this year.
All but a few fortunate teams will be starting their season three weeks late on Monday or Tuesday because of lingering winter weather. Therefore, teams with a new starter at either position are hard-pressed for time to form a strong partnership.
But that wont be a problem for the Sandy Creek Comets.
Coach Bill Fowler has pegged senior Michaela Martin to take over as the teams top pitcher while her fraternal twin sister, Kylee, will move into the starting catcher position.
I wouldnt want to throw to anyone else, Michaela Martin said. Its not the same. Were always on the same page because you know, were twins, and it just works better this way.
Its not the same if Im not catching for her, Kylee Martin added. Were on the same page with just about everything.
The Martins were batterymates during Sandy Creeks summer league this past year and have often thrown to each other on various travel teams.
Another edge to their unique affiliation, Fowler said, is they arent afraid to let each other know when theyre doing something wrong.
Theyre at each other pretty good but its a good, healthy rivalry, Fowler said. They push each other to get better, and theyre sisters, so its the normal sister stuff. Theyre good for each other. I just have to remind them every once in a while to stop giving each other the scowl.
Kylee Martin added: Oh yeah, we have arguments. We just get over it though. Usually when we get off the field, were good.
The Martin sisters are two of four returning starters from last years Sandy Creek team that went 23-2 en route to its first appearance in the Class C state title game since 2007.
Along the way, Sandy Creek captured Frontier League C Division and Section 3 Class C titles for the second straight season.
But five multi-year starters have since graduated, including pitcher Chelsea Claflin, the two-time reigning Times All-North Most Valuable Player, and her longtime catcher, Viki White.
Claflin and White, whom the Martin sisters will be tasked with replacing, were both six-year varsity players.
Im kind of excited, Fowler said. Last year, we knew what to expect. Now there are some girls that are going to have step up and fill some roles if we want to be competitive.
Michaela Martin, playing mostly at second base last season, hit .400 and drove in 18 runs. Kylee, an outfielder, led the team with 12 extra-base hits and batted .375.
Michaela Martin was also the Comets No. 2 pitcher last year. She sported a 6-0 record and didnt give up an earned run in 44 innings. She tallied 44 strikeouts and yielded 11 hits.
Kylee Martin caught sparingly last year, but routinely showed the level of toughness required to play behind the plate.
That was most apparent during last years state quarterfinal victory when Martin, tracking down what ended up being a Seton Catholic home run, ran face-first into the outfield fence at full speed. She immediately hopped up, ran to the dugout to wipe off blood and stuff gauze in her nose then sprinted back to her spot in left field.
Seniors Gabriella Guarasce and Shania Darling are the only other returning Comets starters, and projected starter Maggie King will be unavailable after breaking her arm during a preseason practice.
Were excited to see how we come together, who can step up, and just how it all unfolds, Michaela Martin said.
Here is a look at all of the Frontier League teams.
Outlook: Indian River is the favorite to capture its fourth straight division title. Sophomore Kammikia Barnes will return to her role as the teams top pitcher, and along with Haley Prudhomme, should be a strong presence in the lineup. The Warriors will have to overcome the loss of Heidi Amato, one of their top returning players, who broke her hand in the preseason. Watertown, despite struggling in recent years, is in the best position to challenge Indian River with seven returning starters, including pitching ace Hannah Martini.
Coach: Alicia Logan (5th year)
2013 record: 3-11 overall, 2-10 league
Players to watch: Alexis Mondragon, Desiree Reyes, Morgan Bush
Roster: Morgan Bush (Sr., 2B); Heather Leake (Sr., OF); Allyson Millard (Sr., Utility); Alexis Mondragon (Sr., C); Desiree Reyes (Sr., OF); Becky Brandal (Jr., C); Whitney Grover (Jr., IF); Megan Mattner (Jr., P); Merissa Boshane (So., P); Julie Huestis (So., IF); Victoria Fencl (Fr., U).
Immaculate Heart Central Cavaliers
Coach: Paul Alteri (3rd year)
2013 record: 4-11, 2-9
Players to watch: Korine Clark, Anna Garrabrant
Roster: Elena Alteri (Jr., 2B); Jasmeet Aujla (Jr., OF); Korine Clark (Sr., P); Lauren Clement (Jr., OF); Anna Garrabrant (Jr., P); Anna Jank (Jr., 3B); Erin Jank (Fr., OF); Mikayla Kolb (Sr., C); Miranda Kolb (So., SS); Emma Renzi (Jr., OF); Jody White (Jr., OF).
Indian River Warriors
Coach: Tim Callahan (3rd year)
2013 record: 11-8, 6-6
Players to watch: Haley Prudhomme, Kammikia Barnes
Roster: Heidi Amato (Sr.); Haley Prudhomme (Sr.); Ashley Dobmeier (Sr.); Kammikia Barnes (So.); Cheyenna Snyder (Fr.); Abby Labadinni (So.); Katelyn Stump (So.); Becca Butler (Sr.); Kasey Fuller (Jr.); Brianna Brizuela (Sr.); Talesia Jackson (Jr.); Gabby Belles (Sr.); India Leddy (Jr.); Kylie Beckstead (Jr.).
Coach: Matt Hynes (8th year)
2013 record: 3-13, 2-10
Players to watch: Hannah Martini, Taneisha Richey, Shytarra Lemon
Roster: Tara Blair (Jr., 2B); Gabby Clark (Sr., OF/SS); Kayla Couturier (Sr., OF); Destiny Cronce (Jr., C); Kaydehn Fitzpatrick (Jr., OF); Madelene Hashagen (So., OF/SS/2B); Shytarra Lemon (Jr., 1B); Hannah Martini (Jr., P); Karelisse Pecheco (Fr., C/OF); Brooke Peters (8th, P/OF); Taneisha Richey (Sr., 3B); Maggie Valentine (Jr., SS).
Outlook: South Jefferson and General Brown will compete for this division and should be two of the top teams in Section 3 Class B. The Lions bring back pitching ace Katie Pitkin, one of the best arms in the league overall. The Spartans will be led by senior catcher Jackie Decker. Pitkin and Decker are the only returning Times All-North first-team selections. The biggest factor is how South Jeffersons one-two pitching tandem of Heather Williams and Janessa Vaadi replace the teams ace of the past few seasons, Brooke LaLone, who graduated.
General Brown Lions
Coach: Darrin Pitkin (4th year)
2013 record: 18-4, 14-3
Players to watch: Katie Pitkin, Rhea Pitkin, Deleha Decker
Roster: Deleha Decker (Sr., SS/3B/OF); Kayla Gaffney (So., 3B/2B); Mackenzi Goutremout (Fr., OF/1B); Kathleen Gruber (Jr., 1B/OF); Elizabeth Long (Sr., OF); Sam Monroe (Sr., C/1B/OF); Katie Pitkin (Sr., P/1B/SS); Rhea Pitkin (So., P/1B/SS); Taylor Rowe (Sr., 2B/OF); Mikayla Rust (Jr., P/OF); Shay Siver (Sr., OF); Hannah Smithers (Fr., C/1B/OF); Chelsea VanTassel (8th, 3B/2B/OF); Lila Ward (8th, C/OF).
Lowville Red Raiders
Coach: Chris Riley (6th year overall, 1st year back)
2013 record: 6-11
Players to watch: Catherine Lyndaker, Ashlee Sprowl, McKenzie Marti
Roster: Megan Hill (Sr.); Catherine Lyndaker (Sr.); Kaitlyn Fayle (Jr.); Alexa Yousey (Sr.); Ashlee Sprowl (Jr.); Maggie Griffiths (Sr.); Kristin Reimer; Mckailey Lyndaker; Mckenzie Marti; Savannah Feliz; Therese Dines; Christina Swiernik.
South Jefferson Spartans
Coach: Steve Randall (11th year)
2013 record: 16-4, 15-2
Players to watch: Jackie Decker, Heather Williams, Janessa Vaadi
Roster: Jackie Decker (Sr., C/SS/3B); Heather Williams (Sr., P/1B/OF); Lyndsie OBrien (Sr., C/1B/OF); Brianna LaFlesh (Sr., OF/1B); Kassie Davis (Sr., 3B); Janessa Vaadi (Jr., P/IF); Taylor Brown (Jr., IF); Emily Eastham (Jr., OF); Caitlyn Slate (Jr., OF); Elizabeth Yerdon (Jr., OF); Alyssa Nappi (Jr., OF); Alyssa Parkinson (So., 3B/OF); Courtney LaFlesh (So., IF/OF).
Outlook: South Lewis and Thousand Islands will provide the biggest threat to Sandy Creeks chances of a division repeat. Marissa Brown and Drianna Crofoot will pitch for the Falcons again this season while Jaedyn Ossont and Olivia Fitzgerald are expected to help produce runs. The Vikings return Casey Webb as their ace in the circle to go with six returning starters that combined for a .288 batting average.
Beaver River Beavers
Co-coaches: Tracy Adams and Brenda Buell (3rd year)
2013 record: 5-11
Players to watch: Taylor Buell, Hailie Lehman, Sidney Hawksley
Roster: Taylor Buell (Sr., P/IF); Rochelle Cowan (Sr., OF); Erika Glenn (Sr., IF/OF); Sidney Hawksley (Sr., P/IF); Hailie Lehman (Sr., P/IF); Brittany Widrick (Sr., OF); Keanna Proulx (Jr., C); Nina Andreassan (Sr., OF); Mariah Abel (Jr., P/IF/OF); Kristen Ebersol (Jr., OF/IF); Rachel Haskins (Jr., OF); Taylor Kieffer (Jr., IF/OF); Caitlyn LaBrake (Jr., IF/OF); Shyanne Laubscher (Jr., OF); Morgan Moore (Jr., IF/OF); Emma Puddington (8th, IF).
Sandy Creek Comets
Coach: Bill Fowler (14th year)
2013 record: 23-2, 16-1
Players to watch: Michaela Martin, Kylee Martin, Gabriella Guarasce, Shania Darling
Roster: Madison Bush (Sr., C); Autumn Darling (Jr., P/IF); Shania Darling (Sr., IF); Gabriella Guarasce (Sr., OF); McKenna Guarasce (Jr., OF); Kylie Hanni (Sr., IF); Maggie King (Jr., IF/OF); Kylee Martin (Sr., OF/P/C); Michaela Martin (P/IF); Peyton Miller (Sr., IF); Alina Quintana (Jr., P/IF); Adrian Ranieri (Jr., IF/C); Lindsey Redden (Jr., OF/IF); Carley Stoker (8th, P/IF); Brittany Valley (Sr., IF/OF); Grace Wallace (Sr., OF); Jasmyn Williams (Fr., IF).
South Lewis Falcons
Coach: Dave Szalach (2nd year)
2013 record: 13-6, 11-5
Players to watch: Marissa Brown, Olivia Fitzgerald, Jaedyn Ossont, Drianna Crofoot
Roster: Jessica Haig (Sr., U); Shania Loomis (Sr., IF); Mia Poste (Sr., OF); Marissa Brown (Sr., P/OF); Jayne Strigle (Sr., OF); Olivia Fitzgerald (Jr., IF); Jaedyn Ossont (Jr., IF); Kassidy Loomis (Jr., IF); Audrey Emerson (So., IF); Drianna Crofoot (Fr., P/OF); Brittany Swiernik (Fr., C).
Thousand Islands Vikings
Coach: Paul Barton (5th year)
2013 record: 8-10, 7-9
Players to watch: Casey Webb, Heather Robinson
Roster: Ashlee Bourquin (So., C/OF); Courtney Calhoun (Jr., OF/P); Bailey Call (Sr., 1B/C); Mallory Cooley (Fr., 1B/3B); Emily Cooper (Jr., OF/2B); Kim Korcz (Sr., OF/2B); Jenna Mannikko (Sr., OF/SS); Sabrina Matthews (Jr., OF/P); Alleigh Robbins (So., SS/2B); Siera Robbins (Fr., OF/2B); Heather Robinson (So., P/3B); Kristen Solar (Fr., 2B/P); Casy Webb (Jr., P/3B).
Outlook: LaFargeville went unbeaten in this division last year en route to league and playoff titles and an appearance in the Section 3 Class D semifinals. The Red Knights will enter as the favorite to repeat with their top pitcher Amber Klock, the divisions best returning hurler, entering her senior season. Alexandria is the most likely threat, with senior catcher Amanda Lingenfelter leading a group of six returning players. Molly Aznoe, a transfer student, will pitch a bulk of the innings for the Purple Ghosts. Copenhagen expects to contend after a self-described underachieving year in 2013. Lyme, coming off its best season in decades, will look to its strong sophomore class to keep building the program under a new coach.
Alexandria Purple Ghosts
Coach: Diane Bush (32nd year)
2013 record: 8-9, 8-7
Players to watch: Amanda Lingenfelter, Lorraine Beard, Molly Aznoe
Roster: Amanda Lingenfelter (Sr.); Hannah Lynch (Jr.); Demi Felder (Fr.); Morgan Weaver (So.); Molly Aznoe (Jr.); Taylor Hudson (8th); Lorraine Beard (Sr.); Jennie Spooner (So.); Erika Langling (So.); Mikaela Benny (Jr.); Christin Sanford (Fr.).
Belleville Henderson Panthers
Coach: Colleen Bellinger (4th year)
2013 record: 1-14
Roster: Ashley Hodge (Sr.); Danielle Simmons (Jr.); Lizzy Scherer (Jr.); Marisa Sudgen (Jr.); Haley Contryman (So.); Amanda Bond (So.); Zoe Stuckey (So.); Karley Youngs (So.); Jayla White (So.); Karley Maloney (So.); Sara Dick; Meagan Castle; Stacey McClean; Katelyn Vanbrocklin; Brianna Biggs.
Copenhagen Golden Knights
Coach: John Cain (12th year)
2013 record: 8-10, 6-8
Players to watch: Brooke Spaulding, Alicia Evans
Roster: Marinda Allen (Sr., OF); Jenna Bevens (Sr., OF); Alicia Evans (Sr., SS); Brianna Muncy (Sr., 3B); Nicole Gardner (Jr., U); Brooke Spaulding (Jr., P); Morgan Young (Jr., OF); Laura Graves (So., 1B); Kylie Guyette (Fr., C); Maci Spaulding (Fr., U); Drew Baker (Fr., U); Hope Woodruff (Fr., OF).
LaFargeville Red Knights
Co-coaches: Danielle Shimel and Jeff Davidson (13th year)
2013 record: 17-4, 12-3
Players to watch: Amber Klock, Logan Labiendo
Roster: Amber Klock (Sr., P); Jenna Sharp (Sr., C); Lacey Black (Sr., RF); Jen Barker (Sr., DH); Logan Labiendo (So., 3B); Mackenzie Hilts (Jr., SS); Cortney Davis (Jr., IF/C); Allison Hoover (Jr., P); Shyanne Weston (Jr., OF); Megan Liede (Jr., OF); Jordan Nuffer (So., OF); Julia Desormeau (So., 1B).
Coach: Brian Peters (1st year)
2013 record: 8-11, 6-8
Players to watch: Taylor Brown, Haley Kappus-Kron
Roster: Morgan Warren (Fr.); Meghan Goutremout (So., IF/OF); Allison Tarwater (So., 1B); Haley Kappus-Kron (So., CF/P); Lauren Barry (So., 3B); Meghan Donaldson (So., C); Taylor Brown (So., P/CF); Alyssa ODonnell (So., IF/OF); Mikayla Enos (So., IF/OF); Rachel Mac (So., IF/OF); Elaina Best (So., IF/OF); Riley Thomas (So., IF/OF); Megan McKenna (Jr., IF/OF); Emily Ennis (Jr., IF/OF); Miciaela Arreola (Jr., IF/OF); Justice Denny (Jr., OF); Paige Kappus-Kron (Sr., SS/OF).
Sackets Harbor Patriots
Coach: Dan Green (18th year)
2013 record: 2-16, 2-13
Roster: Alexis Stewart (Sr.); Amber Fay (Sr.); Katie Lapusnak (Sr.); Alexandra Townsend (Sr.); Dunya Amro (Jr.); Diana Dotson (Jr.); Alexis Filley (So.); Cady Weller (Fr.); Jessica Dotson (Fr.); Jamie Lynn Mendelson (8th).