Honesdale softball team poised for a title run
Article Couresty of Kevin Edwards
When last we saw the Lady Hornets, they had played their way to within one win of an appearance in the PIAA state championship softball game in the spring of 2019.
Led by fireballing righty Marissa Gregory, Honesdale had embarked on a scintillating playoff run that culminated in a silver medal at districts and an eye-opening effort at the Class 4A tournament.
Gregory was nothing short of a revelation in the circle.
Just a freshman, Marissa evolved from a solid starter into a bona fide ace in the span of just a few months ... an evolution that ignited the Red & Black attack.
Now, after losing an entire year to the pandemic, Gregory is poised to pick up right where she left off in 2019. The junior is bigger, stronger and brimming with big game experience.
“I’m beyond excited to be back on the diamond,” she said. “I worked really hard during the off-season. My stride is longer, my pitches have more movement and more velocity.”
Gregory has already had three chances to show off her flashy new stuff during non-league games against Lake Lehman, Carbondale Area and Pittston Area.
“I think I’ve performed well in our first three games,” Marissa said. “I’m hitting my corners and working ahead in the count. If I do fall behind, I don’t get all frazzled. I come back with good pitches.”
Weather and pandemic permitting, Honesdale will be back in action Thursday on the road at Wilkes Barre Area. First pitch is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. in the Diamond City.
While the Lady Hornets will look to Gregory for excellence in the circle, five seniors will provide leadership on and off the field.
Rachel Daub, Gina Dell’Aquila, Grace Maxson, Katie Grund and Sarah Meyer are all battle-tested veterans who’ve meant a great deal to the program over the past four years.
“They’re just fantastic kids,” said veteran head coach Dave Patrisso. “All of our younger players really look up to them and they set a great example. I have very high expectations for this group.”
Daub is entering her fourth season as a member of the varsity squad. She is one of the most versatile players in the league, having excelled in the infield, outfield and behind the plate.
“Rachel has been a constant and consistent contributor at the top of our line-up,” Coach Patrisso said. “She hits in the one or two hole because she rarely strikes out and always makes solid contact.”
Dell’Aquila is another four-year member of the varsity team. She is one of the circuit’s most feared power hitters, known for her penchant for delivering the big hit in clutch situations. She’ll be Honesdale’s starting first baseman this spring.
“Gina won the DH job her freshman year after hitting a towering pinch hit game winning home run,” said Coach Patrisso. “She was the starting shortstop on our state playoff team, and a huge reason why we made it to the semifinals.
“Gina’s bat seems to get better in the most important situations against great pitchers.”
Maxson is a multi-sport standout who also excels on the basketball court. She’s known for her hard work and dedication both on the diamond and in the classroom.
“Grace will start the season as our left fielder,” Coach Patrisso said. “She is one of our most improved players and has really stepped up in a leadership role this season. Grace possesses above average speed and she also has the ability to drive the ball.”
Grund is yet another four-year member of the varsity squad. She’s become an absolute fixture in the outfield possessing expansive range, a good arm and great natural instincts. She’ll patrol center this spring.
“Katie has a tremendous glove and gets a great read on balls hit to the outfield,” said Coach Patrisso. “There aren’t many that she will not catch. Katie’s bat has consistently gotten better over the years and she has become one of our better hitters.”
Meyer has been a valuable contributor at the varsity level since her freshman season. She cracked the line-up and a pinch runner and pinch hitter, then gradually saw her role grow.
“Sarah has earned the starting spot in right field,” Coach Patrisso said. “She’s worked hard in the weight room and will be a very powerful presence in the middle of our line-up this year.”
Honesdale will once again be competing in the Lackawanna League’s Division II against the likes of Western Wayne, Paupack, North Pocono and Delaware Valley.
Two years ago, the Lady Hornets finished third in the regular season standings with a 6-7 mark. However, they caught fire in the playoffs en route to an historic showing at states.
Gregory is unabashedly enthusiastic about her team’s chances this season.
“I have high hopes!” Marissa exclaimed. “We have the talent to go as far as we did two years ago if not farther, but we need to keep practicing hard. My hopes for this year are to win a division title, and a state championship.”
Coach Patrisso is cautiously optimistic as well.
“I have high expectations,” he said. “We definitely have the talent, so the sky’s the limit. If we play the way I know we can, this team can compete with anybody.”