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  • Wiley Softball Enters Third Season Returning Bulk of Starters and Talented Rookies
WILEY PANTHERS SOFTBALL 2022: (front l to r) Dixie Bitner, Bethany Summers, Fatima Gomez. (back l to ri) Maddie Wertz, Melanie Salcedo, Jocelyn Salgado, Zoe Martinez, Rachel Kopasz, Kenna McElroy, Dani Cass, Windsor Leighty. (Not pictured) Grace White, Sariya Osborn, Kara Wilson, Lexi Shotton.

Wiley Softball Enters Third Season Returning Bulk of Starters and Talented Rookies

By Betsy Barnett

August 10, 2022

The Wiley Softball program came into existence in the pandemic year of 2020 when volleyball had been postponed to the spring of 2021 with the hope that the indoor sports could be played later after the Covid-19 virus had run its course. The loss of volleyball as a girls’ sport left the area female athletes without an activity in the fall. Wiley stepped in and started a softball team for area girls who wanted a sport. In 2020 the Panthers qualified for the state playoffs despite playing much larger schools in the 3A division.

By 2021 the regular fall sport of volleyball for girls was reinstated as the Covid-19 virus waned. Many thought that Wiley, a 1A school with small enrollment, would drop the softball program and return to normal supporting just a volleyball team. However, the dedication of the local small-school softball players persisted, and they insisted Wiley keep their team going into 2021. They managed to offer both sports last year as the softball team enjoyed participation from players not only from Wiley but also Eads and McClave.

The fall season of 2021 was another successful campaign as the players, many who dual participated in both sports, ended up in the state playoffs for the second year in a row. They would finish with a 7-6 record and lose to Peak-to-Peak in the first round of the state playoffs.

Now into 2022 Wiley enters their third year of softball, with some of the players dual participating, and a new head coach. Demi Magnaleno, who played softball for Lamar but went to school in Springfield is the head coach. Tand Bitner returns as the assistant coach and Lacy Coen who played for Lamar and then some JUCO ball as a pitcher is a volunteer coach.

Wiley will put yet another quality team on the field as they could have 15 players on the roster. They lost four from last year’s team including Ellie Page, Asiah Moreno (McClave), Cassidy Jagers (McClave) and Lupita Marquez.

Although official practice didn’t start until Monday many of the players have been playing all summer and looked strong during their team camp last week.

The Panthers return senior shortstop Grace White (.457 batting average, 16 hits, 13 RBI); junior first baseman Rachel Kopasz (.353 batting average, 12 hits, 20 RBIs); junior outfielder Sariya Osborn (.182 batting average); senior outfielder Danni Cass (McClave, .182 batting average); junior outfielder Kenna McElroy (McClave) and junior pitcher Bethany Summers (.500 batting average, 20 hits, 10 RBIs) who has been the starting pitcher for the Panthers since the team came into existence.

As a junior, Summers was the only one in the circle for Wiley. She carried a 4.16 ERA in the team’s 7-5 season record. She worked through 65.2 innings and only walked an unbelievable 4 batters throughout the season, striking out 57 batters.

Sophomores Jocelyn Salgado (2B and outfielder, .200 batting average) and Melanie Salcedo (infield and pitcher; .471 batting average) also return. Wiley senior Fatima Gomez, who is a versatile player, is back this year after not playing in 2021.

A new player from McClave has joined the team. Windsor Leighty is a very athletic junior who is joining the Wiley softball team for the first time.

Bitner is also really excited about a young group of freshmen who are entering the program this year, many of whom are dual participating in their school’s volleyball program. Bitner says, “There are at least five freshman who will be impactful from the get-go for us. Four of them will be dual participating and have chosen their primary sport. This will help us plan each game depending on what personnel we have available.

Dixie Bitner, a solid catcher, is the only freshman from Wiley. Bitner will dual-participate with softball as her primary sport. Two Eads freshmen are also dual participating. Kara Wilson, who will play infield and perhaps do a little bit of pitching, chose softball as her secondary sport. Lexi Shotton will play infield, particularly third base, and chose softball as her primary sport. They will be joined by two freshmen from McClave including Maddie Wertz, a strong infielder, who has chosen softball as her primary sport and Zoie Martinez, an all-around utility player, who also chose softball as her primary sport.

All five freshmen plus Salcedo and Salgado played for the Rivals 14U softball team throughout the summer.

Bitner thinks there may still be a couple of more players interested in playing. He’s looking for perhaps their best year yet as Summers, their ace, is obviously very seasoned in the circle and most of the players spent their summer on the softball diamond at tournaments up and down the front range and into Kansas. “This is a very talented group that loves the game of softball,” added Bitner.

The Panthers are scheduled for immediate action starting this week. They open up the season in Florence on Thursday and then travel to Burlington for a Saturday head-to-head.

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