St. C.’s Gallentine captains T-L softball team

MARTINS FERRY — While only one team –St. Clairsville — in the Times Leader coverage area claimed an OVAC championship on the softball diamond this season, a plethora of area players put forth outstanding efforts for their respective teams, thus earning a spot on the 2019 all-T-L squad.

The team is selected by members of The Times Leader sports department, with input from area coaches.

The Red Devils won the Class 4A championship, while Bridgeport finished second in Class 2A.

A brief capsule of each honoree follows:

TAYLOR GALLENTINE, St. Clairsville. A 4-year starter for the Red Devils, this slick-fielding shortstop earned Division II second team all-state honors and was also OVAC Class 4-A Player of the Year when she batted .587 (44-75) in 20 games, which included 32 singles, 10 doubles and a pair of triples. She scored 25 runs, drove in 18, walked four times and only struck out twice.

In the circle, she worked 14.1 innings in six games. She was 1-0 with a save.

“Taylor was fortunate enough to earn all-state honors,” St. Clairsville head coach Rob Gallentine, who is also her father, said. “She was a pleasure to coach this season.

Gallentine, who is a 4-year member of the T-L team and serves as this year’s captain, was also all-Eastern District and all-Buckeye 8.

ABBY BUMBICO, Martins Ferry. This senior pitcher/shortstop really emerged as a team leader during her final season as the Purple Riders advanced to the Ohio Division III District Championship Game.

She batted .469, scored 33 runs, recorded 20 RBI and was a perfect 23-for-23 in stolen bases. She slugged four home runs, tripled four times, had 10 doubles and 14 singles. She also walked 23 times.

Inside the circle, she fanned 113 batters and issued 33 bases-on-balls. Her ERA was 2.03 and her fielding percentage .961.

“Abby is a great competitor who can play any position on the field. She has excellent speed on the bases and a tremendous knowledge of the game that makes her a very difficult out,” Martins Ferry head coach Paige Williams said. “She has power at the plate and a good eye to go with it. She is a 4-year letterwinner that will be hard to replace.”

She was also honorable mention all-state.

JADEN STALDER, Martins Ferry. Only a junior, she has manned the ‘hot corner’ for the Purple Riders every since stepping on the field as a freshman. She hit .339 this season with 21 hits (2 triples) and 14 runs batted in. She also scored 14 times and stole 10 bases. Her fielding percentage was .957.

“Jaden loves to win and will do whatever it takes to make it happen. She has no fear on the hot corner and takes away a lot of would-be base hits,” Williams allowed. “She has outstanding speed on the bases to leg out a single and swipe any base. She is a 3-year letterwinner who we look to be a leader next year.”

ALAIRE DESTIFANES, Buckeye Local. Another 4-year standout, she played a variety of positions during her senior campaign.

She batted .382 with nine doubles, five home runs and 29 runs batted in for the Panthers.

“I feel she is the most underrated player in the (Ohio) valley because she played on a team that didn’t have a great record and she never got the recognition she deserved,” first-year Buckeye Local head coach Drew Case said. “She was all-everything for us playing shortstop, centerfield, left field and catcher, with catcher being the most played.

“What makes Alaire so special is that she not only plays all theses positions, but she plays them all at an all-star level. She will be irreplaceable for our team.”

SHAYLEI GIESEY, Monroe Central. This junior was a valuable asset for the Seminoles due to her versatility as a pitcher and catcher..

This season she hit .449 with 44 hits (10 doubles, 3 triples) and 29 RBI. She only struck out twice in 101 at-bats.

As a pitcher, she was 8-3 with a 2.13 ERA in 79 innings. She struck out 79 and gave up 24 earned runs. Behind the plate, she threw out seven runners attempting to steal.

“Shaylei has been an important part of our program for three years as a catcher/pitcher,” Monroe Central head coach Michael Brock explained. “She has also hit the ball very well with 133 hits in three years. She should be in line for another big (senior) season hitting and pitching.”

SYDNIE DESTIFANES, Shadyside. A 3-year regular after not playing as a freshman, Destifanes was rock-solid in the Tigers outfield and the leadoff position.

“Sydnie was a great leader for us. In the leadoff position, she set the tone for our offense,” Shadyside head coach Jillian Ongley said.

She hit .356, scored 40 runs and had 32 hits this season.

“Defensively, she played centerfield and covered so much ground. She robbed numerous home runs with her amazing efforts,” Ongley added. “She never gave up on a play and always gave 100 percent. She will be greatly missed this season.”

Destifanes was named second-team all-Ohio in Division IV.

ERIN HANNAHS, Barnesville. Hannahs best epitomizes the leadoff hitter. For the Shamrocks, she was second in batting average (.385) and led them with 40 runs scored in her senior season, finishing with 100 for her career. She also accumulated 116 at-bats this season to give her 360 for her career and had 66 runs batted in for 120 in her career.

“She has been key for us offensively in her career in the lead-off role. Those are some numbers she can be very proud of,” barnesville head coach Leslie Skinner aid. “Erin was also our “Best Defensive Player” this season. She did whatever we have asked her to do in the past and this season … we asked a great deal from her. We started her at second, moved her to center field and on occasion to left field. In one game, I had her in all three spots.

“She was key for us this season and we will greatly miss her both offensively and defensively next year on the field and even more as a person.”

REGAN HANLON, Barnesville. Hanlon turned into the Shamrocks go-to player inside the circle this spring. She was a deceiving 10-9 in 115 innings in which she struck out 135 batters and had five games with 10-plus strikeouts.

“That’s quite the workload. I am very proud of her after having to outfit a completely new defense behind her. We lost five games by 1-run and, if you turn those around, the numbers look very different,” Skinner noted. “What stuck out most for us in her pitching was her increase in strikeouts. That’s more than double a season ago. We are very proud of her for that.

“Regan is tough. She knows what she needs to work on this summer to be ready for next spring and we are super excited heading into her senior season.”

At the plate she hit .287 with 27 hits and 30 runs batted in. She finished with nine doubles, two triples and a pair of home runs.

KILEY JO BAKER, Shadyside. Only a sophomore, Baker has a bright future ahead of her with the Tigers.

“Kiley Jo is one of those players that everyone wants on their team. She is willing to do whatever is needed for the team, without hesitation,” Ongley stressed. “She always gives her all in practice and games. She played shortstop this season and made some players that were game-changers.”

She led the team in batting with a .385 average, 35 hits and 38 RBI.

“Kiley Jo is definitely a huge asset to our team. We are lucky to have her back for two more years.”

HUNTER POLLOCK, Martins Ferry. This freshman catcher filled a huge void defensively for the Purple Riders.

She batted .384, with 21 hits ( doubles, 1 home run) and drove in 20 runs. She fielded at a .977 clip.

“Hunter stepped up as a freshman in a very important position. She has come through in clutch situations at the plate several times this season,” Williams noted. “She is a workhorse who does whatever you ask of her. We look for great things from Hunter as she continues her career at Martins Ferry.”

TORY HENDERSHOT, Shadyside. Hendershot continued a tradition of solid catchers for the Tigers.

“Tory has been our catcher for the last two seasons. This year, as a sophomore, she really made that position into a leadership role,” Ongley noted. “She really knows the game and is able to work with the pitchers to make the right calls for the pitches. Offensively, she was one player that we knew could make something happen.”

Hendershot finished with a .360 batting average that featured 27 hits and 17 RBI.

“We are excited to have Tory as a key player back for two more years,” Ongley added.

CANDACE CALDWELL, River. A 4-year letterwinner for the Pilots, Caldwell finished her career with 138 hits. She had 30 this season while batting .395. She had 30 hits (23 singles, 5 doubles, a triple, a home run) and knocked in 21 runs this season. Her slugging percentage was .526.

“Candace is one of the three seniors that are going to be very tough to replace,” River head coach Dave Wright said, also citing Livi Rose and Riley Lollathin. “Candace has been the backbone, so to speak past couple years. Candace is a great role model for the younger girls. We had 12 freshmen this season.”

JAYDEN LOWE, St. John Central. Only a sophomore, Lowe is a versatile athlete that can play numerous positions.

She hit .395 this season with 29 RBI and 19 runs scored. She fashioned a .570 slugging percentage and slugged three home runs.

“Jayden can play anywhere on the field. Her enthusiasm for the game is unmatched. She has a lot of power. She is a very coachable player,” veteran St. John Central head coach Jerry Magistro said. “For two years she used her leadership like a senior.”

BREE BENNINGTON, St. Clairsville. Another 4-year starter, Bennington batted .471 with 32 hits in 68 at-bats. She slugged three doubles, two homers and knocked in 15 runs. She struck out just once in 77 plate appearances.

“Bree was one of our power hitters,” Coach Gallentine said. “She had a good senior season.”

She was also all-Eastern District, all-OVAC and all-Buckeye 8.

JOCLYN PESHEK, Harrison Central. Another outstanding performer for Young and the Huskies, also earned all-OVAC, all-Eastern District and all-Buckeye 8 during her 4-year career.

As a senior, Peshek hit .417 with 31 hits (19 singles, 10 doubles, 2 home runs) and drove in 20 runs. Her on-base percentage was .456, with her slugging mark at .653. She finished her career with 126 hits, which included 83 singles, 25 doubles, five triples and seven home runs. She had 82 runs batted in.

“She really summed up her career as a senior. She fought through some health issues, but still gave 110 percent all the time,” Coach Young said. “She’s a real fighter.”

BROOKLYNN RUBLE, Bridgeport. She was the Bulldogs ace in the circle the last two years, hurling them to the OVAC Class 2A championship as a junior. They made it to the finals this season before losing to Clay-Battelle.

“She was a workhorse for us the last two years,” Bridgeport head coach Donnie Cash advised. “She had two no-hitters this season and was a huge part of our success. She had a good year at the plate, as well.”

Ruble was a deceiving 14-7 in the circle with a microscopic 1.80 ERA. The righthander struck out 279 batters and walked 45.

At the plate, she hit .400 with 15 runs batted in.

SHAYLYN HORVATH, St. John Central. Horvath had a very productive senior season for the Irish. A 4-year starter, she led the team with a .406 batting average. She drove in 32 runs and scored 24 while slugging at a .690 clip. She finished with four home runs.

“She will be remembered as the last girl to win a sectional softball championship at St. John Central,” Magistro said of Horvath’s sophomore season. “She was a treat for me to coach. She was an all-around player and a great kid.”

MADISON YOUNG, Harrison Central. This senior not only started every game of her 4-year career, but she caught every inning and called all the pitches for her father’s Huskies. She was also all-OVAC, all-Eastern District and all-Buckeye 8 for four years.

“She had a stellar career. She was like a coach on the field,” Harrison Central head coach Darrin Young said. “We are going to really miss her.”

During her senior season, the West Liberty University recruit hit .410 for the Huskies with 34 hits (31 singles, 3 doubles) and 14 runs batted in. She did not strike out one time in 83 at-bats and recorded an on-base mark of .485 and a slugging percentage of .446. She batted .383 for her career.

Young was named to the Division III all-Ohio second team.

KADEN MERCER, Union Local. A Walsh University recruit, Mercer turned in a fine career for the Jets.

She recorded three dozen hits this spring, with five going for doubles, four triples and three home runs. She had an exceptional slugging mark of .853 and was on-base 61.9 percent of the time. Her batting average of .529 topped the team.

“Kaden is one of the most competitive and hard-nosed players that I have ever coached. You could always count on her giving 100 percent,” Union Local head coach Rich Mercer, also her father, said. “Kaden has put a lot of time and effort. She is very deserving of everything she has accomplished.”

KATRINA DAVIS, Bellaire. Just a junior, she hit .513 with 45 hits (10 doubles, 2 triples) and 36 RBI. She scored 25 runs and only struck out five times. Her slugging percentage was an electrifying .877 while her on-base mark was a scintillating .902.

“Kat is such a great ballplayer. Defensively, she takes charge of the middle infield and will turn double plays like no one’s business. She has doubled off so many runners from second as she pump fakes and turns two. She has a incredible glove and incredible knack of fielding the ball off the bat,” Bellaire head coach Melissa Lahna said. “At bat, she has moved from cleanup to leadoff and broke the school record for hits in a season. She gets it done and gets on base to allow the Lady Reds to score first.

“I cannot tell you how many times we needed runners on and she is always putting the ball in play to get the job done for us. Kat is never satisfied with her performance and is extremely humble which makes her such a great leader offensively and defensively. She comes to win and expects to daily. Her tenacity and her persistence to outwork yesterday is outstanding. She excels not only in the game but in the classroom as well. She is a force to be reckoned with on the diamond.”

NATALIE STONER, Bellaire. A senior who concluded an outstanding career in Black-and-Red she had 34 singles, eight doubles, two triples and 24 runs scored while only striking out one time. Her batting average was .495, while she slugged at a .686 clip and was one base 61.6 percent of the time.

She pitched 76.1 innings with 64 strikeouts and just 11 walks. Her ERA was 2.00.

Stoner was named to the second team all-Ohio in Division III.

“Natalie is such a phenomenal softball player. She has earned the respect to be all-Ohio, for she has worked extremely hard to attain that status,” Lahna stressed. “She has a great glove and bat and is knowledgeable of the entire game. She is such a positive influence on the team. She is always smiling and striving for her team to be better. She is also so quick and smart … such a smart baserunner, but in the outfield she has robbed so many teams of great hits because of her jump off the bat.

“This girl here struck out one time this year and put the ball in play consistently along with her delayed steals that would catch catchers off guard. More importantly, she is a student of the game and great representative of a student-athlete. She is definitely one of the most positive athletes I have had the honor to coach. Natalie is a player that will be talked about for years not only for her playing ability but her attitude and the ability to make others dig down and fight for wins.”

JENNA JASKOWIAK, St. Clairsville. Just a sophomore, she was the Red Devils ace in the circle this season where she fashioned a 13-6 mark. In 116.2 innings, she struck out 103, walked 40 and gave up 40 earned runs. Her ERA was 2.74.

At the plate, she hit .393 (24-61) with three doubles and 13 RBI. She also scored nine runs.

“Jenna was a very valuable player for us. She has two more years and will only improve,” Coach Gallentine advised.

Jaskowiak also earned all-Eastern District and all-Buckeye 8 honors.

ANGELA SOMMER, Bridgeport. A steady 4-year performer for the Bulldogs, she hit .331 and scored 25 runs this season. She also stole 17 bases and knocked in seven runs.

Defensively, she was solid in the infield.

“Angie was solid in the field and at the plate for three years while I was the head coach,” Cash noted. “She was a captain and one of our leaders. She gave her best effort every day.”

ROB GALLENTINE, St. Clairsville. In just his first season, the Linsly graduate guided the Red Devils to the OVAC Class 4A championship with a victory over Oak Glen.

“We had a good group of girls that worked really hard to achieve their goal of winning an OVAC championship,” he said “They were really enjoyable to coach.”