Yes it’s true that the competition faced by the Wallkill Valley High School softball program was fast and furious, but the same thing can be said about the response delivered by the Rangers at all times on the field.
Wallkill Valley earned some significant triumphs this spring as vividly recalled by head coach Sarah Hamm.
“Some of the standout match-ups of this season included our 7-6 win over Hackettstown early on in the season,’’ Hamm said. “We entered the bottom of the seventh trailing by three and scored four to secure the win; the girls showed heart and grit to fight for that win. The same can be said for both games against Sussex Tech. The both times we faced them, it was a battle to the finish. In our first game against them, we trailed 3-1, 8-1, 8-7, went up 11-8, fought to keep it 11-10, then took the final inning with one more run to make it 12-10. The second time we played them was a similar back-and-forth story, where we led by a great deal. Sussex Tech then closed the gap and took the lead 14-11, but our girls rallied to have a seven-run sixth inning to regain the lead and finished out the game with a 21-16 final.”
“Lastly,” Hamm continued, “our 14-13 win against Lakeland was one of our most notable wins. Lakeland was just one run away from a 10-run mercy win against us when the bats came to life and Wallkill scored 10 runs in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead and secure the win over a very competitive team.”
Leadership was at a premium for the Rangers this year.
“One of our standout leaders this season was graduating senior Natalie Armstrong,’’ Hamm said. “Nat was in our top five hitters, improving her batting average this season to .406, leading the team in runs scored with 23, second in RBIs with 16, leading in stolen bases with nine and notching her first career home run. Aside from her offensive improvements, Nat showed leadership behind the plate, commanding the field, as well as off the field leading her team with energy, positivity and enthusiasm.
“Also emerging as a leader was sophomore Jackie Schels, who led the team in several categories, including a team high .441 batting average, 30 hits, 29 RBIs, second in doubles with five and a team high of three home runs. Jackie took over the role of center field after Izzy Stecher graduated in 2021, and did an outstanding job leading the outfield and in the batter’s box.’’
Improvements from various student athletes on the roster were certainly noticed by the coaching staff for this recently concluded season.
“Madison Bowden is another one of our seniors who was a standout in leadership and improvement throughout the entire season,’’ Hamm said. “From day one, she came in ready to have her best season yet and improved her batting average by 172 points and increased with 14 more hits this season. Giana Carreiro also improved from a .296 to a .389 while switching from the left to right side of the infield and taking over the second base position with ease.’’
The Rangers tallied eight hard-earned wins this spring, with a 5-5 mark in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference Colonial Division. They advanced to the NJSIAA North 1 Group 1 Sectional Tournament where they were defeated by Emerson Borough.
Coach Hamm has a sense of optimism surrounding the 2023 season.
“While we’re losing two seniors in starting positions, we’re returning with a great deal of sophomore and junior players who will come back next year with varsity experience and their core team intact,’’ Hamm said. “The growth between last year and this year as a team was notable not only through statistics but commented on by several of our opponents after facing off with them this year. I look forward to seeing what yet another year of experience can yield for these returners.’’