By Rob Potter
SULLIVAN COUNTY July 4, 2006 In early April, varsity softball teams from seven Sullivan County high schools as well as The Family School in neighboring Delaware County took to the local fields to begin the 2006 season.
During the next several weeks, the teams battled each other as well as squads from Orange and Ulster counties. The teams even fought the weather as Mother Nature forced many contests to be postponed and others to be canceled altogether.
But when the games were played, fans enjoyed many displays of great pitching, excellent hitting, clutch base stealing and outstanding defense.
When the regular season ended, the Sullivan West was the only local team to qualify for sectionals. Unfortunately for the Lady Bulldogs players, coaches and fans, the teams appearance in the Section IX Class B Tournament was brief. On May 30, the Pine Plains Lady Bombers defeated the Lady Bulldogs, 3-2, in a Class B quarterfinal game in Jeffersonville.
Democrat staff members recently contacted the coaches of the local high school softball teams and asked them to nominate players from their own squad as well as other Sullivan County teams for an all-star team. They were requested to chose an MVP, first team and second team.
And the 2006 Sullivan County Democrat Scholastic Softball All-Stars are
Sarah Lander Sullivan West
Her leadership ability is just incredible, SW Coach Mike Ellmauer said of Lander. She was our top pitcher and did an outstanding job.
A sophomore, Lander posted a 5-7 record this spring. She struck out 81 batters and walked only 11. Lander also was a key hitter for SW as she had a .323 batting average.
Kaylie Ackerley Tri-Valley
This was Ackerleys third year as a member of the Lady Bears varsity squad. The sophomore pitcher/first baseman played in all 20 T-V games this season. She batted .281, scored 19 runs, stole 12 bases and had 11 RBIs. Defensively, she led the team with 91 putouts and 68 assisted putouts. Her two best outings in the pitching circle were a 1-0 loss to defending state Class D champion Chapel Field and a 6-1 win at The Family School when she struck out 10 Lady Falcons. Ackerley was named the Lady Bears 2006 Co-MVP along with senior second baseman Brittany McNamara.
Michelle Fancher Liberty
A junior, Fancher is a very versatile softball player. This season she played in the infield and outfield and was one of the Lady Indians pitchers. She had a .349 batting average.
The Family School
A junior third baseman, Fairweather was the Lady Falcons best hitter this season as she recorded a .346 batting average. She hit a two-run homer in May game versus Eldred. In two games versus Tri-Valley, Fairweather went 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
Jessica Franke Liberty
Franke, a senior second baseman, was the Lady Indians top hitter this season. She posted a .429 batting average.
Jackie Litwak Monticello
Litwak, a senior first baseman, was the Lady Panthers clean-up batter this spring. She had a .398 batting average, which was the highest on the team. In addition, Litwak blasted two home runs, had 11 RBIs and hit three triples.
Brittany McNamara Tri-Valley
This was the fourth year on the Lady Bears varsity team for McNamara, a senior second baseman. She played in all 20 T-V games this spring, posting a .279 batting average. In addition, she scored 22 runs, stole 14 bases and had a nine-game hit streak and many of those nine contests were against Orange County teams that had better records than the Lady Bears. McNamara was named the Lady Bears 2006 Co-MVP along with sophomore pitcher/first baseman Kaylie Ackerley.
Brittany Melchick Liberty
Melchick was among the Lady Indians best hitters this spring. She recorded a .370 batting average. Defensively, the senior anchored the teams defense from her shortstop position.
Katie Moloney Sullivan West
She started three of our game-winning rallies for us, Ellmauer said of Moloney, a senior catcher.
Moloney also hit a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning of an April game versus Monticello to give the Lady Bulldogs a 7-5 victory. She had a .327 batting average and five RBIs. Behind the plate, she threw out six runners who were attempting to steal second base and threw out another runner who ventured too far from first base.
Ashley Tice Eldred
Tice, a junior, was the Lady Yellowjackets top pitcher this season. She struck out 83 batters in 96 innings. Offensively, she led the team with a .316 batting average.
Valentina Babich Liv. Manor
A sophomore third baseman, Babich was the Lady Wildcats top hitter this spring with a .463 batting average. She also led the team in stolen bases with 14.
Ashley Hong Fallsburg
Hong was one of the Lady Comets top batters this season. She had at least two hits in three games. In a May contest versus Tuxedo, she was a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate with an RBI.
Stephanie Meyer Sullivan West
The sophomore played first base for the Lady Bulldogs and only made one error the entire season. At the plate, Meyer batted .342 and had six RBIs.
Melissa Lair Liv. Manor
The sophomore second baseman was one of the top hitters for the Lady Wildcats. She posted a .310 batting average and had a team-best 13 RBIs. Lair also stole 13 bases this season.
Dana Manell Liv. Manor
She was our leader this season, Manor Coach Sue Zieres said of Manell, a senior who served as the Lady Wildcats captain this spring.
Manell was the teams top pitcher, recording 47 strikeouts on the year. Offensively, she led the team with two home runs, had a .318 batting average, stole nine bases and knocked in eight runs.
Kristen Niemann Sullivan West
Shes a gamer, Ellmauer said of Niemann, a sophomore outfielder who committed only one error this season. She was the Lady Bulldogs leadoff batter and had a .357 batting average. Niemann also scored six runs, stole five bases and knocked in five runs.
Paulina Renggli Eldred
The sophomore catcher had a .271 batting average, which was the second highest on the team. She led the Lady Yellowjackets in home runs with two both of which she hit in one game and in triples (two).
Heather Sherwood Liv. Manor
Sherwood, a senior shortstop, started all 18 games for the Lady Wildcats and played in every inning. She only committed seven errors all season.
Emily Zier Monticello
In addition to playing well in the outfield, Zier was a clutch hitter. The senior blasted a two-run homer in the eighth inning of a May game against James I. ONeill to help the Lady Panthers record a 7-5 victory.