By Lisa Renwick
“Our expectations are to pick up where we left off last season,” said first-year head coach Chad Hoobler. “We have been preparing for another run at a region crown, district title and a state playoff berth.”
Though new to the varsity head coaching position, Hoobler has an extensive coaching background. In fact, this is his 12th season coaching fastpitch softball. He coached Little League for five years and has spent the past seven years coaching club or travel ball as well as serving as the junior high assistant coach and head junior varsity coach at Franklin.
Needless to say, Hoobler is no stranger to this Lady Knights squad and the talent it brings back from last year’s 17-6 squad.
Sydni Hoobler is back at shortstop after leading the Knights with a .481 batting average a year ago. She also had a team-best eight doubles, 41 runs and 26 stolen bases. She was also second on the team with two home runs.
Also back is second baseman Brandy Atwell.
The Knights do have some holes to fill following the graduation of all-region catcher ChristaRose Hawke, who hit .576 through 10 games before suffering an injury, third baseman Kayln Fry (.392, 25 RBIs) and center fielder Erin Janidlo (.320, 26 RBIs. But Hoobler is excited about the newcomers he has to fill those spots in Gabriella Laderer (CF) and Abigal Boland (3B/C).
Those two are already figuring into the mix joining Edge (pitcher), Kristen Hicks (catcher), Gabriella Wimer (first base), Atwell (second base), Hoobler (shortstop), Rilee Hanna (left field) and Autumn Fitzgerald (right field) in the Knights’ probable starting lineup.
Experience is just a part of the Knights’ strengths.
“Some of our strengths will be our team speed and aggressiveness, potent offense, stingy defense and our experience,” Hoobler said.
As far as obstacles? “Strong region and district competition are just a couple of obstacles that stand in our way,” Hoobler said.
Franklin is once again Class 4A and will play in Region 4 with Oil City, Sharon, Jamestown, Titusville, Slippery Rock, Corry, Hickory and Grove City. The Knights have a big matchup on Saturday at Jamestown - the defending Class 3A champion. The Knights already have a 10-0 five inning win over Corry and a 16-1 three-inning win over Mercyhurst Prep.
Note: Kirsten Hicks took over at catcher last year down the stretch as a freshman. She really stepped up filling in for their injured catcher and was rock-solid in the playoffs for the Knights.
Head coach: Chad Hoobler
Assistant coaches: Mike Hanna and Tom Tinkey
Volunteer Assistants: Haley Winger and Ed Winger
#, Name, year, position
2 Gabriella Laderer, 9, CF
3 Gabriella Wimer, 11, 1B
4 Edin Criado, 9, OF
5 Trinity Edge, 11, P/MIF
6 Madison Stewart, 9, OF
8 Hannah Freer, 9, OF
9 Rilee Hanna, 10, LF/2B
10 Abigal Boland, 9, 3B/C
11 Bailey Roberts, 10, OF
12 Brandy Atwell, 12, 2B/P
13 Sydni Hoobler, 11, SS/P
15 Allison Wilson, 9, IF
17 Mercedes Stewart, 11, OF
20 Hailey Bryan, 10, 1B/OF
22 Autumn Fitzgerald, 10, RF
33 Kirsten Hicks, 10, C
Lisa loves softball and her coverage over the years has taken her all over the east coast. She has covered state champions and gone to the softball World Series. She has agreed to help us out Eight & 322 by keeping an eye on this spring season for us. We are thrilled to have her.