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Durkin Hopes to Add Title

By JOSH STROPE

WHEELING — Pat Durkin is still basking in the excitement of capturing Wheeling Park’s first swimming title. He’d like to add another new trophy to the case.

Entering his third season as the softball coach, Durkin has taken the Patriots to the state tournament every year, including a runner-up finish in 2016.

He feels the Patriots are going to be in the mix to get back to Vienna and come back with the hardware.

“Of course we want to go back,” Durkin said. “So far they look good. We think we have a good shot, but we also know there is good competition. They want to make some noise this season.”

Like any softball team with title aspirations, you need to have a solid pitcher. Durkin has a pretty good one in Makenzie Amend.

The senior begins her third year in the circle. She will also play some first base.

Leading the offense will be senior catcher Kat Donzella.

“Having Makenzie and Kat as our pitcher-catcher combo, those two make up one of the best in the state,” Durkin said.

Freshman Ashley Linder will also see some time at pitcher, as will sophomore Kacy Long.

The Patriots have two more seniors in shortstop Laral Saunders and first baseman Megan Stanford.

The outfield will be made up of Ateria Walker in right, Maddie Miller and Elizabeth Wright in left and Chelsea Chacolas in center.

Second base will be between Catie Nesbitt, Kieran Johnson and Sharise West.

Johnson or West could also play third base.

“Speed is going to be our strength. We have a lot of fast girls that can run,” Durkin said. “We are going to be young with some sophomores, but I like what I see. Johnson is very athletic with good softball knowledge. Chacolas is outstanding at running down balls.

“Right now we can’t wait to get out there. It is time to play. They realize the regular season isn’t do or die. The big picture is getting to the regional so getting some wins under your belt and getting confidence is the big key. The regular season is for getting ready for the playoffs.”

March 17: at Spring Mills (2) 5 p.m.

March 18: at Washington (2) noon

March 20: at Brooke 5 p.m.

March 21: Oak Glen 5 p.m.

March 22: Weir 5:30 p.m.

March 25: at Warren noon

March 28: at University 5 p.m.

March 30: Parkersburg 5:30 p.m.

March 31: at Park South (2) 4:30 p.m.

April 1: Steubenville (2) 1 p.m.

April 3: Brooke 5 p.m.

April 4: John Marshall 5 p.m.

April 5: at Morgantown 5:30 p.m.

April 6: at Oak Glen 5 p.m.

April 8: St. Clairsville (2) 2 p.m.

April 17: at John Marshall 5 p.m.

April 19: Morgantown 5 p.m.

April 20: at Parkersburg 5:30 p.m.

April 25: Warren 5:30 p.m.

April 26: OVAC semis TBA

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