6/26/2017
2017 Citizens' Voice Softball Player of the Year: Jenna Lipowski
Matt Bufano - Citizens Voice

Jenna Lipowski offers a simple piece of hitting advice for younger softball players: See the ball, hit the ball.

It’s not as easy as it sounds, though Lipowski followed that advice better than anyone over the course of her high school career.

In 15 games this season, Lipowski reached base 45 times in 58 plate appearances for an astonishing .775 on-base percentage to go with her .675 (27 for 40) batting average.

Lipowski had zero strikeouts and was walked 18 times — including four times, intentionally, in Nanticoke Area’s season-ending, 10-inning loss to Wyoming Area.

Lipowski drove in 25 RBIs and hit eight home runs, giving her 31 career homers — including a two-run blast in the one at-bat in which Wyoming Area threw her strikes.

A rare four-time member of The Citizens’ Voice All-Star team, Lipowski contributed greatly in two of the Trojanettes’ banner years: the 2015 District 2 Class 3A champions and the 2017 Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 champs.

While Nanticoke Area’s undefeated season ended against Wyoming Area in the district playoff semifinals, Lipowski said she has no regrets from the game.

“Honestly, it was a really good game, probably one of the best games I’ve played in,” she said. “I thought we fought back really hard, especially the last inning when we were down three runs. They finally pitched to me and I hit a home run. Miranda Bohn came up next and she hit a home run. That was probably one of the greatest comebacks in history, like coach (Ryan) Stetz mentioned. I thought it was a really good game, but it just didn’t go in our favor.”

The daughter of Karen and Marc Lipowski, Jenna Lipowski earned Player of the Year honors her sophomore and senior seasons and recently spoke with staff writer Matt Bufano.

Q: How much work went into becoming the top hitter in the WVC?

A: “Definitely a lot of work. I go to practices with my hitting instructor (Dennis Smeding) three or four times a week. I have my father, who takes me to K.M. Smith and helps me hit, just throwing me BP. Also, all my coaches who help. I’ve been going to the gym and working out, especially because when I was younger I wasn’t really a power hitter back then. I’m just working my way up from where I was then to where I am now.”

Q: How fulfilling was it to win a league championship, which Nanticoke Area hadn’t done in several years?

A: “It felt really good — especially going undefeated and especially since sophomore year, we lost to Wyoming Area and junior year, we lost to Tunkhannock. We got to finally claim it.”

Q: Do you have a favorite home run from the past four years?

A: “Probably my favorite would be the one against Berwick for the (2015) district championship. But also the Wyoming Area game to end out my senior year on a home run.”

Q: Was it frustrating when teams pitched around you, intentionally walked you?

A: “Yeah. You have to take the walks ... to help the team out. It definitely is frustrating because you just want to hit the ball. But you have to do whatever you have to do to get on base and help the team out.”

Q: Is there a favorite pitch you seem to make contact with best?

A: “Outside pitches are probably my favorite. I think that, honestly, just seeing the ball coming into the plate is probably my favorite thing whether it’s a change-up or curveball or anything. And I love hitting with two strikes on me.”

Q: Most players wouldn’t like facing a two-strike count, so why do you?

A: “Because it makes me more aggressive at the plate, knowing that — since I have two strikes on me — I have to be smart and be able to see what pitch is coming in and recognize anything.”

Q: Had you made any tweaks at the plate in the last few years?

A: “Definitely with inside pitches. I had a hard time with that and Tunkhannock definitely knew that when we played them the second time. Just going up there with the mentality of hitting the ball and knowing to swing or not is how I go up.”

Q: How will you remember your four years playing softball for Nanticoke Area?

A: “Probably as one of my favorite teams to play on. Great group of girls; had coach Stetz, an amazing coach, playing me as a freshman, which he didn’t have to do. It’s just an awesome feeling with this team and knowing I could leave a mark at Nanticoke. I thank everyone who helped me along the way.”

Q: Why did you decide to play your college softball at Kutztown?

A: “I really like the coach (Judy Lawes) and I like the campus, as well. She was in contact with me a lot and I like how she was always talking to me and social. I think it was the best decision for me. I hope I go there and make my parents proud.”

6/26/2017
2017 Citizens' Voice Softball All-Stars
Matt Bufano - Citizens Voice

Miranda Bohn
School: Nanticoke Area
Year: Junior
Position: Pitcher
Southpaw was 13-0 with a 0.95 ERA in regular season league play, pitching the Trojanettes to the WVC Division 2 title. A reliable bat behind Lipowski in the order, Bohn hit .359 in league play.

5/31/2017
Wyoming Area stuns Nanticoke to advance to district title game
Warriors defeat Nanticoke to head to D2-4A title game

jerzar@timesleader.com

As the losses piled up in late April, Wyoming Area softball coach John McNeil kept mentioning the need for his team to mature.
The Warriors, perhaps, came of age Tuesday as they fought through a gut-wrenching, emotional 10 innings to knock off top-seeded Nanticoke 6-5 in a District 2 Class 4A semifinal game.
Fourth-seeded Wyoming Area (9-6) will play third-seeded Tunkhannock (11-4) at 4 p.m. Thursday at Wilkes University for the district title. Wyoming Area will be going for its first district championship since 1981. Tunkhannock last won a district title in 1999. Both teams will advance to the PIAA Class 4A state championships on Monday.
"Our girls have worked hard the last two weeks with the goal of going to state tournament," said McNeil, whose team was 3-5 in early May. "We're not overlooking the fact that we're going to try to win the district, but we're looking forward to going to the state tournament."
Junior Annie Karcutskie provided the game winner, singling up the middle to score Nicole Silinskie with one out in the top of the 10th. The 10th inning was played under international tiebreaker rules and Silinskie, who made the last out of the ninth, started the inning on second base.
Karcutskie also singled in Wyoming Area's three-run ninth that gave the Warriors a 5-2 lead.
"Honestly, it was one of the best feelings in the world," Karcutskie said of her 10th-inning single. "This was probably one of the best days of my high school softball career."
Cassidy Graham then came on in relief for the fifth time in the game and left a runner stranded at third to send the fourth-seeded Warriors into a wild celebration.
"The last inning, my mind was crazy," said Graham, who came in to pitch in four other innings to specific batters and then hand the duties back to starter Gwen Glatz. "I feel like not only me but as a team we pulled together that last inning. It was a great inning. I'm just glad we got out of it without them getting a run."
Wyoming Area appeared in great shape after the top of the ninth as a couple errors and an RBI single by Bri Pizzano were part of a three-run inning for a 5-2 lead.
Nanticoke was then down to its last out in the ninth with Brinley Sobeck on first base. Then Jenna Lipowski, one of the top power hitters in the state, came to bat. Lipowski was intentionally walked in her four previous plate appearances and McNeil decided to pitch to her since she couldn't tie the game with one swing.
"That was tough," said Glatz, who was pitching at the time. "I haven't pitched to her all game, but coach came out and said we have one runner on and she can't tie the game if she hits it out. Just go out there and have fun."
Lipowski was the one smiling as she demolished a pitch well over the left-field fence to cut the deficit to 5-4. Miranda Bohn followed with a solo shot to center to send the game to the 10th.
After Wyoming Area took its 6-5 lead, Nanticoke started the bottom of the 10th with Cassie Novakowski on second. She moved to third with two outs, but Graham got a pop-up to end the game.
Nanticoke (14-1) ended its season with a district semifinal loss for a second consecutive year after winning the D2-3A title in 2015.
"We tried," said Nanticoke coach Ryan Stetz, whose team is the only one to defeat Wyoming Area since the Warriors' 3-5 start. "The classic example is how the girls just stuck with it today. The stuff that Jenna and Miranda did will arguably go down in Nanticoke history as two of the biggest hits we've ever had."

5/31/2017
District 2 softball: Wyoming Area knocks off Nanticoke Area
Matt Bufano - Citizens Voice

About this time of year, Wyoming Area is not the softball team opponents want to see in the other dugout.
The Warriors have history on their side, as they've won at least one district playoff game each year since 2010.
The Warriors also have the talent, evidenced by several of their wins this season, as well as the fact they are only two years removed from winning a league championship.
And on Tuesday, the fourth-seeded Warriors put it all together, knocking off top seed Nanticoke Area, 6-5, in a 10-inning District 2 Class 4A semifinal.
After the teams miraculously scored three runs each in the ninth, it was Annie Karcutskie's RBI single that scored Nicole Silinskie in the top of the 10th that sent the Warriors (9-6) into their first district final since 2012.
Gwen Glatz earned the win and Cassidy Graham got the save, as the two split pitching duties against the previously unbeaten Trojanettes (14-1).
"I used two pitchers for different batters; we used different pitchers all through the game," said Warriors head coach John McNeil.
"My girls were clutch ... and I give all the credit in the world to (Nanicoke Area) coach (Ryan) Stetz. He has them girls prepared. It's too bad somebody had to lose today, but on the other end, I'm happy for my girls. We worked hard in the last two weeks. In the last two weeks, our goal was to get to the district final and today we reached that goal."
The district championship 4 p.m. Thursday at Wilkes will be a rubber-match between Wyoming Area and No. 3 Tunkhannock, teams that split their season series 1-1.
Wyoming Area is one of only four teams to beat Tunkhannock with the others being Nanticoke Area (twice) and District 2-4 Class 6A subregional finalist Hazleton Area.
Tied 2-2 entering the ninth inning, Wyoming Area plated three runs on a Glatz bunt that scored Karcutskie; a Brianna Pizzano single that scored Graham; and Kari Melberger's single that scored Pizzano.
"We played a little small ball when we needed to," McNeil said. "Our girls stayed in there and we hit."
But back-to-back home runs by Nanticoke Area's Jenna Lipowski (a two-run shot) and Miranda Bohn tied things up, 5-5, before Wyoming Area won in the 10th.
Lipowski was 1 for 1 with four walks, while Bohn had three RBIs on a pair of hits.
Pizzano, Melberger, Silinskie, Karcutskie and Kristi Skok had two hits each for Wyoming Area.

5/16/2017
Trojanettes claim crown
mbufano@citizensvoice.com

Whether or not Miranda Bohn’s picking up speed on her pitches, the Nanticoke Area left-hander relies on what she’s told by others.
“My coach tells me I am, but I can’t really tell myself,” she said. “But, hopefully.”
Evidently showing a little more zip on her pitches Monday, Bohn threw another gem.
The junior tossed seven innings of two-hit ball in Nanticoke Area’s 6-0 win against Crestwood in Wyoming Valley Conference softball.
The win clinched Nanticoke Area the WVC Division 2 title, joining Hazleton Area (Division 1) and Holy Redeemer (Division 3) as league champs.
“It’s a credit to the girls in the dugout. I love coaching this team,” said Nanticoke Area head coach Ryan Stetz. “They’re very serious when they have to be. But at the same time, they enjoy the game and they’re very knowledgeable and they don’t like to lose.”
The Trojanettes have not lost with Bohn in the circle this season, as Monday’s game was the fourth straight shutout she’s pitched. She improved to 10-0 on the season and lowered her ERA to 0.73.
“She’s very skilled, she could hit her spots — as people know — and she could pitch at any count,” Stetz said. “So she keeps hitters off-balance. And then, when she throws as hard as she does, it’s very difficult to hit.”
As the season goes on, Bohn said, she’s feeling more confident and getting more control of her pitches.
Nanticoke Area’s offense has been just as effective, as the Trojanettes are outscoring opponents 66-9 through 10 games.
On Monday, the Trojanettes’ first three batters — Brinley Sobeck, Jenna Lipowski and Bohn (courtesy runner Elizabeth Redenski) — reached base and came around to score and make it 3-0.
In the second inning, No. 9 hitter Gabby Rakowski and Sobeck started a two-out rally with singles.
Lipowski then stepped to the plate, driving her fourth home run of the season over the fence in right-center field.
“We saw some things early in the season that teams were trying to do to us,” which prompted moving Lipowski — arguably the top hitter in District 2 — from the three-hole to No. 2, Stetz said.
Crestwood (3-9) pitchers Abby Waite and Katie Thomas shut the Trojanettes out from the third inning on, however. It was an impressive performance by a young Comets team with only two seniors.
Sydney Sobolewski had both hits for Crestwood, going 2 for 3.
“I know we didn’t have many hits today, but we didn’t have many strikeouts either,” said Crestwood head coach Adrienne Bannon. “So that’s huge. Put the ball in play, we made them earn it. Our defense was good. That was key.”
Kiera Brown and Cassie Novakowski each had a hit and an RBI for Nanticoke Area. Megan Murphy also hit a single.

5/1/2017
Athlete of the Week: Miranda Bohn, Nanticoke Area softball
Tyler Piccotti - Citizens Voice

Bohn tossed a six-inning perfect game — striking out eight batters — on Thursday in the Trojanettes’ 10-0 win over Coughlin. She also picked up a complete-game victory last Monday against Valley West.

GETTING TO KNOW MIRANDA
Year: Junior
Age: 17
Hometown: Nanticoke
Family: Sandy, mother; Jay, father; Lucy, dog
Favorite subject: Math
Favorite book: “The Fault in Our Stars”
Favorite movie: “The Maze Runner”
Favorite TV show: “Impractical Jokers”
Favorite musician: Shawn Mendes
Favorite food: Pierogies
Favorite color: Orange
Favorite sports team: Florida Gators softball
Favorite athlete: Florida softball player Kelly Barnhill
Did you realize you were perfect during the game? “I actually didn’t know until one of my friends told me in the last inning.
“It was really exciting. ... We went out to the outfield after the game, and everyone was saying, ‘Good job,’ and everything.”
How excited is the team to still be undefeated this season? “It’s gone really well so far. I think we’re just taking it one game at a time and just hope everything falls in our favor this year.”
For Miranda, the best part of playing softball is ... experiencing it with her teammates.
For Miranda, the most difficult part of playing softball is ... the offseason workouts.
Away from the diamond, Miranda likes to ... hang out with her family and friends.
If Miranda could meet anyone in history, it would be ... Babe Ruth.
If Miranda could travel anywhere in the world, she would choose ... Paris.
If Miranda could have any superpower, she would choose ... the ability to read minds.
One word that best decribes Miranda is ... funny.
In terms of future plans, Miranda ... wants to attend college and continue playing softball.

4/24/2017
Times Leader Athlete of the Week: Nanticoke’s Miranda Bohn
Times Leader

MIRANDA BOHN
School: Nanticoke
Year: Junior
Sport, position: softball, pitcher
Family: Jay, dad; Sandy, mom
Last week: Threw a complete game, striking out four and giving up one unearned run in the Trojans’ 2-1 win over Tunkhannock on Tuesday. In Thursday’s 4-1 win over Berwick, Bohn was 2 for 3 with a home run and 2 RBI. She also earned the victory in the circle.
What she says: “I definitely think working together as a team and as a whole having good defense and producing runs.”
Favorite type of candy: Sour Patch Kids watermelon
Favorite healthy snack choice: Apples
Cats or Dogs: Dogs
What’s your pet’s name: Lucy
Why did you start playing softball?: 7 years-old
Favorite cartoon: SpongeBob SquarePants
Favorite song right now: “iSpy” - Kyle
Favorite sports team: Florida Gators
Favorite/Go to move? Curveball
Favorite TV show: “
Favorite chick flick: “Fifty Shades of Grey”
Favorite action movie: “Hunger Games”
Is a hotdog a sandwich?: No
Favorite teacher: Ms. Warman, math
Favorite subject in school: Math
Favorite ice cream: Blueberry
What do you put on your pizza: More cheese
Favorite animal: Dog
Favorite book: “The Fault in Our Stars”
A place you’d like to visit: Hawaii
What are you binge watching on Netflix: “Grey’s Anatomy”
What’s your dream job?: Professional athlete

4/3/2017
WVC Softball Season Preview
Citizens Voice

Nanticoke Area
Coach: Ryan Stetz
Classification: 4A
2016 results: 13-5. Lost to No. 1 Abington Heights, 5-2, in the District 2 Class 3A semifinals.
Players to watch: Seniors — Jenna Lipowski, IF; Leandra Ramos, P/OF; Kiera Brown, OF. Junior — Miranda Bohn, P/IF
Coach’s outlook: “The 2017 Nanticoke softball team is a very talented and motivated team. The experienced team established itself in the proud history of the softball program, and has league, district and state championship aspirations. The team is very strong in all aspects of the game and (has) excellent students within the classroom. The roster is a mix of both college-level and role players who developed quickly to provide great energy and enthusiasm to compete against a challenging schedule. The team is looking forward to representing our school and the community of Nanticoke Area.”

12/8/2016
District 2 rules Nanticoke Area softball player eligible
mbufano@citizensvoice.com

A surefire contender in the softball season — still months away — Nanticoke Area appears back on track following an eligibility hearing Tuesday.

The District 2 athletic committee voted 7-0, reinstating Morgan Briggs’ eligibility to play her senior season, which was nearly derailed because she played one inning of a senior all-star game.

“There was no intent on the girl’s part to violate any rule or get around any rule,” said District 2 athletic committee chairman Frank Majikes. “She was totally unaware of it and, obviously, it wasn’t done intentionally.”

The event in question was the 37th Annual Robert L. Dolbear Senior All-Star Softball Game, played June 26 at W.W. Kubis Memorial Field in Dallas.

Briggs attended the game to support her friends, having no intention of playing in the all-star game intended only for seniors.

But the teams were shorthanded, leaving the West without a catcher.

All-star coaches Heather Dale (Hazleton Area head coach), Bob Hegedty (Tunkhannock head coach) and Ron Hampsey (Tunkhannock assistant coach) approached then-junior Briggs, who volunteered to play upon request.

At least one other underclassmen was asked to play, but Briggs was the only one who could, because she had catching equipment in her vehicle.

“She’s always willing to participate, and I think she was just trying to do what was in the best interest of everybody,” said Nanticoke Area head coach Ryan Stetz.

Briggs played one inning behind the plate and had an at-bat before it was brought to the coaches’ attention that Briggs was violating PIAA bylaws, punishable by a loss of eligibility for one year in that sport.

According to Stetz, Briggs was immediately pulled from the game, where coaches sought clarification from Majikes via telephone.

Majikes did not pick up, though, and the possible violation was eventually reported by Nanticoke Area athletic director Ken Bartuska to the PIAA.

Stetz said the 30-minute testimony at Tuesday’s hearing revolved around Briggs having no intention of playing in the all-star game, while having only good intentions — so it would not be forfeited — when she did enter the game.

One photograph showed Briggs at the game in street clothes, alongside Nanticoke Area senior Rachel Roccograndi, who was in uniform.

Stetz said the Hazleton Area and Tunkhannock coaches took responsibility for playing Briggs, saying they did not know they were breaking the rules.

“It’s a credit to all involved, as far as the Hazleton coaches and Tunkhannock coaches and even the committee,” Stetz said. “It was great that everybody came forward with an honest description of what took place in the act of fairness. In this case, the PIAA committee really got it right.”

The East won the all-star game, 15-2, in a contest that featured individuals playing defense for both teams, as well as pitchers and catchers that hadn’t played those positions in years.

Briggs hit about .400 last season and was selected by Wyoming Valley Conference coaches as a second-team all-star in Division 2. She figures to be a key player this year for the Trojanettes, who went 13-5 in 2015.