Salem High School Spring sports open next week

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Salem’s Joe Quinn attempts to get the out with a pick off play against Blacksburg’s Michael Olszewski at second.
Salem’s Haellie Gordon pitched the Spartans to an 8-0 shutout win on a cold and windy day at Blacksburg.

The final scrimmages for the spring high school season are scheduled for this week, with regular season action set to begin Monday.

Salem High will have four sports open on Monday. The baseball team is home to William Fleming at Salem’s Kiwanis Field while the boys’ soccer team opens at Franklin County. Both lacrosse teams open as well at Jefferson Forest.

On Tuesday, March 14, the softball team will open with a game against Lord Botetourt at the James I. Moyer Complex. The baseball team will play again Tuesday, this time against LB in Daleville. The girls’ soccer team will open on Wednesday of next week at Pulaski County.

Salem will have 10 varsity sports competing this spring. Here’s a quick preview of eight, as boys’ and girls’ track doesn’t have a meet until April.

 

BASEBALL

The Spartans should have their best baseball team in years. The Spartans return eight starters from a team that made it to the final eight in the state last year. They return their catcher, the whole infield, two outfielders and a couple pitchers.

Pitching will be the key for the Spartans, because they’ll score plenty of runs. Trevor Austin is the returning ace and Conner Mitchell will get the ball more often as the second starter. Both are seniors.

Junior Hunter Clifton will get some starts and Joseph Quinn, the starting shortstop, and lefty firstbaseman Vincent Pinello are available for relief outings. Zian Honaker, a freshman, is a young southpaw coach Wes McMillan is hoping will progress to where he can be a real factor by the post-season.

“He throws hard and he has good stuff,” said McMillan. “If he can give us some good outings that will really help. I think he’s ready.”

John Stover returns behind the plate and infield consists of Pinello at first, Jacob Dobb at second, Quinn at short and Riley Fox at third. They’re all returning starters and good players.

In the outfield Noah Beckley is in center and Landon Hudson is in right. Both were coming off injuries last year, but are 100 percent this spring and swinging the bat well. Leftfield is up for grabs. Austin can play left when he’s not pitching and he can also play the infield.

“We have strong hitting and defense,” said McMillan. “If we can get good pitching there’s no telling how good this team can be.”

 

SOFTBALL

The Salem High softball team will open their second season under coach Sarah Beth Walton on Tuesday of next week with a home game against Lord Botetourt. The Spartans were scheduled to scrimmage Eastern Montgomery on Wednesday of this week.

Fast-pitch softball is a pitcher’s game, and Salem has a good one in senior Haellie Gordon. The George Mason University signee has pitched the vast majority of innings for Salem in the past three years and there’s no reason to think this year will be different. Other seniors include Jennie Battaglia, Sammie Haga and Josie Bruner.

“Sammie has great tracking abilities in the outfield, Josie is a wonderful leader hitting-wise and as a captain and Jennie is a hard-working middle infielder,” said Walton

Juniors are Elizabeth Warren, Lauren Moran, Mikayla Stovall, Alyssa Akers, Brianna Merritt, Taylor McCaleb, Mackenzie Taylor, and Autumn Cox, and sophomores are Morgan Tennant and Kendra Bolen. The group has a wealth of varsity experience after being thrown into the fire last year with a very young team. Improvement should be noticeable from day one.

“We have lots of talent and potential, just a matter of if it all comes together the way Mike Warren(assistant coach) and I are hoping it does,” said Walton. “We’re excited for a new season to move forward with the program, to improve the record and create a competitive softball program.”

 

BOYS SOCCER

The Salem boys soccer team will open the season on Monday at Franklin County with high hopes. Salem returns some good talent and is coming off a strong showing at the Cave Spring Jamboree last week.

The Spartans won the 40 minute scrimmage against Lord Botetourt by a score of 1-0 as Sahil Patel scored on an assist from Drew Benne.  In the 80 minute scrimmage, Salem tied William Byrd 1-1 on a penalty kick by Alec Mowry.  Jett Sable was fouled in the penalty box as he was on a breakaway toward Byrd’s goal.

“This was a good result as we were without our senior center backs due to school related trips over the weekend as well as junior striker Christopher Clemmens and junior keeper Brayden Meadows,” said coach Dean Jones.  “We had to step up and we did.”

This year’s captains are Benne, a junior, and Mowry, a sophomore. Returning lettermen include seniors Jacob Muncy, Jonas Oliver, Caleb Close, Harry Kennedy, Caleb Craig, Carlos Vieta and Sable. Returning junior lettermen are Benne, Patel, Blake Davidson, and Meadows. Lettering as a freshman were Mowry, Trenton Blais and Will Snyder.

 

GIRLS SOCCER

The Salem girls’ soccer team will open the season next Wednesday, March 15, against Pulaski County in Dublin. The home opener is March 21 against Western Albemarle.

Salem scrimmaged Franklin County last week and took a 1-0 win. Coach Josh Jones is hoping to pick up where the girls left off last year, as they went all the way to the state final and finished as Group 4A Runnerup.

“We are excited about this group of girls that we have in our program,” said Jones. “We won our first scrimmage over Franklin County but more importantly learned a bit about our group and found some things that we need to build on.  Coming off playing in the State Final last year, it is important for us to remember how hard we worked to get there and learn what we can do differently this season to not only make the State Final but come out on the other side of things.”

Two seniors and two juniors are this year’s captains. James Madison University bound senior Hannah Coulling is a captain at midfield and Hannah Moran is a senior defender. Junior captains are defenders Evyn Magenbauer and Mallory Edwards.

Salem has just five seniors on a roster of 25. Joining Coulling and Moran from the class of ’17 are Ellie Look, Alberte Krabbe and Morgan Brooks.

The Spartans do not have a jayvee team this year and Jones kept eight freshmen on the varsity.

 

BOYS LACROSSE

The Salem High boys’ lacrosse team will open Monday with a game against Jefferson Forest in Forest. The Spartans are looking for a good season under third year coach Daniel Dyer.

“We are excited for this year to begin,” said Dyer. “The guys have been working hard and have shown great improvements in their conditioning from last year. We are always striving to get better everyday. It will be fun to see how the team grows throughout the season. We have some strong leaders in our senior and junior class.”

Key returning players for Salem include Anthony Migliarese (midfield), Mac George (long Stick Midfield), Evan McMillan (midfield), Trent Cheyney (midfield), Karak Paisley (defense) and Zach Mason (attack).

The Spartans will scrimmage Roanoke Catholic on Friday of this week in their final tuneup for the regular season.

 

GIRLS LACROSSE

The Salem girls’ lacrosse team will take the whistle to open the season Monday in Forest against Jefferson Forest. Game time is 5 pm in the first game of a doubleheader with the boys.

Key returnees for the Spartans include captains Abbey Greer, Lilly Blair and Maddie Bowman. Greer is a senior while Blair and Bowman are both juniors.

Abbey and Arie Newman are our two seniors who I see making a big impact on this season both in leadership and experience,” said coach Maggi Pace. “We are bringing in a strong freshman class of 10 players that we see pushing all of us to that next level.”

Overall the girls’ numbers are booming with 29 on the roster.  Claire Feeney, All-ODAC Player of the Year in 2016, joins Salem as the assistant for the first few months of the season.

“I look for this group to make another run at the state tournament, especially since it will be held at Roanoke College,” said Pace. “We’re focusing on each individual game, however, and making sure we grow and mature from our mistakes.”

Salem participated in a jamboree at Western Albemarle last weekend.

“We’re ready to fix our mistakes and build upon the concepts we’ve been putting into practice,” said Pace.

 

BOYS TENNIS

Coach Scott Gibson is looking forward to another successful season with the boys’ tennis team. Salem scrimmages Lord Botetourt at Hollins University today, but doesn’t open until March 22 at home against Hidden Valley.

Salem returns senior Mladen Vukovic, junior Johnny Danstrom, senior Alex Anama, senior Dejo Markovic, and senior Ryan Walters to anchor the starting line up. Other players to look out for will be junior Jake Johnson, junior Landon Carter,  sophomore Nic Poff and sophomore Ben Kessel.

“We should compete once again for a conference title and hopefully make a good run in the post season,” said Gibson. “We are carrying a very big roster this year due to having four seniors. We have a lot of experience coming back along with a lot of youth to build on for future seasons.”

 

GIRLS TENNIS

Betsy Burtis returns to coach the Salem High girls’ tennis team after a year off  to start a family. She’s back with her tennis family after Mike Gibson filled in admirable last year.

Senior Isabel Danstrom returns at number one singles and she’ll be on the number one doubles team after going to the state tournament in each of the past three years, twice with sister Katherine and last year with exchange student Leonie Brenzinger.

Ashlyn Pugh will likely be at number two singles and doubles and other returning players expected to play in the top six are Abbie Hoback and Morgan Neily.

“I have had quite a few freshmen and sophomores come out which is why we are spending this week on challenge matches,” said Burtis. “We have some very promising talent on the team.”

Salem will scrimmage Lord Botetourt at home today and open the season at Hidden Valley on March 21.