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Hopewell Softball

HSN Sits Down with Ronda Koblek Varsity Softball Coach

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Hopewell Varsity Softball has been eagerly awaiting the start of the Spring Season. The weather has not cooperated so far pushing back the original Season Opener Game until they have more favorable weather conditions. That ends today! Hopewell is set to take on the Union Area Varsity Scotties today with the first pitch at 4:00 PM on their home field.

Before the game HSN sat down with head coach Ronda Koblek  who gave us the inside scoop on the expectations she has for the team this year along with all the preparation that goes into getting the team ready to compete at a high level. After a winning season last year the expectations of a winning season lead by the returning Senior Varsity Players is high! For those unfamiliar with Coach Koblek we asked the Coach about her softball background and what keeps her coming back to the Team every year. “Funny, I’ve never really been asked this question besides my interview for the coaching job.  I come from a small town, Jefferson Ohio.  I played varsity Volleyball, Basketball, and Softball.  Softball was always my number one sport. I was a pitcher and Centerfield.  As a freshman, I was voted to the All Section Team” and my Sophomore – Senior year I was the “MVP All Section” and “First Team all-County (WPIAL in PA teams)”.  Junior and Senior Year “1st Team All Ohio”.  Held a lot of records at Jefferson and within the State.  I went to The University of Akron on a full ride scholarship to play Softball.  My freshman year, they taught me to be a slapper and it grew on me quickly.  The next three years at Akron I was the starting Centerfielder and broke the University’s stolen base record (guessing 59 in a season).  It has now been broken but I still hold one record at the University and that is the single game stolen base record with 6 stolen bases in one game.  After graduation, I became the Assistant Softball Coach at The University of Akron.  After two years, I moved back home and started coaching in the Jefferson Area and building my family.  I’ve been coaching roughly 10 years, and I don’t see an end date soon.  With the relationships I’ve built with these girls from seniors to 5th grade, I can’t see me letting go any time soon.  When I talk to our youth parents and players the comment I always get is….” you can’t leave until my daughter, or I’m graduated”   That makes me happy when I hear what my coaching staff and I have brought to this community, and I thank everyone for welcoming us.”

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Player development in the offseason is always top of mind to any coach but just as important to Coach Ronda Koblek is the maturation in her players for developing the correct mindset around the game. “This season the team has matured, and the girls are seeing the game from a different perspective.  Before it was all about talent, where now it’s about talent, teamwork, and the right mindsetDuring the offseason:  September – October is “FALL BALL” season where we play in 1 tournament and every Sunday until the weather changes.  The team typically plays 8-10 games during the fall season.  November – December is pitcher/catcher practice twice a week.  Beginning the second week of January we start strength training 2 days a week where we focus on upper body and core one day and lower body and core the second day.  The girls have really taken a liking to strength training and have embraced proper form to get the most out of the workouts.  Three days a week we are hitting and fielding to correct mechanics and provide extra reps.  Once a week we are working on speed and agility.  We typically get 14-16 players attending all these sessions which shows the dedication of these girls and culture this program has become.  This is only high school aged girls and next season we are looking to include the Junior High players which we currently have 10 8thgraders and 14 7th graders signed up to play this season.  We are growing and are excited to see the strength of this program.

 

When asked the always difficult question about expectations with regards to Wins and Losses this year Coach Koblek was very confident, “We are scheduled to play 20 games this season, 10 of them section games.  Though I’m very optimistic for this team, we all know bumps happen along the way.  The team has the talent to be undefeated and their mindset will be the blocker to an undefeated season.  Last season we were 10-7, my prediction is we are 14-4 and section we will win with a 8-2 record. CONFIDENCE and WORKING AS A TEAM are key components of winning.  We have the best pitching, hitting, and defense, but in the end it will be the mindset that wins us games. I and my coaching staff see great things happening with this team.  Milestones have been met to make this team one of the best, now it all depends on how they use it.   If the team believes, we will succeed.

 

Returning for the Hopewell Varsity team this year is a strong group of Seniors that have the heavy burden of hoisting their team to victory. “The team has 4 senior captains this season and they all play an important role in our talented starting lineup. 

  1. Mya Parish has been the starting Varsity pitcher since she was a Freshman and I look for her to continue doing what she’s done the past 3 season.  Each season she has dominated the WPIALS in strike-outs always being in the top 15.
  2. Chloe Nale is a very talented utility player that can play any position I need her.  She will see a lot of time at Shortstop and you may also see her behind the plate.  She is one of our leading hitter, hitting over 0.400 the past 3 seasons. She has been in the varsity starting lineup since Freshman season. 
  3. Ava Compton is another strong senior that was slighted out of making ALL SECTION last season.  I believe she was one of the top BA in our section batting 0.532 with no errors at 3rd base. No one plays 3rd base like Ava and her stick is key to our success.  She has also started varsity since she was a Freshman.
  4. Jordyn Glumac is one of our strongest hitters.  When she makes contact, the next County hears it.  She has started Varsity since her Freshman season and has also batted over 0.400 the past 3 seasons. Jordyn will see a lot of action behind the plate and at 1st base.  Last season she had 119 PO with no error.

Other players that will make a huge impact to the season:

    1. Kara Barkovich as a pitcher, centerfield, and slapper
    2. Bella Katkich in Centerfield and SS
    3. Tori Mann behind the plate and 1st base
    4. Tallulah Showrank in the outfield
    5. Allison Ramaley as an impactful utility player

 

While it takes a strong Senior Varsity Core to lead a team to victory through strong leadership a good coach always looks to the next wave of students that will eventually have to take on the burden of driving success. The Hopewell Senior Varsity Core is strong, but lets not forget about who is new to the team this year and who will carry that weight of leadership moving forward for the Varsity Team. “We have a lot of new players this season-11, which continues to show the strength in our program, said Koblek. Girls that will see time on Varsity:  Lillian Statler, Alana Covalt, Teagan Scully, and Marina Pinchotti. The JV team: Rilee Anskate, Lily Parish, Hazel McCowin, DaKota Roche, Kamryn Roche, Claire Sarkis, and Annabeth Sembower. Returning JV:  MiKaela David and Elizabeth Jones.”

 

Where does Softball get all of these players from with such great talent? Its one of the things Hopewell is great at in our opinion here at HSN. Hopewell Athletics has always had very strong Recreational Youth Leagues that feed our school programs. From Softball, Baseball, Football and almost all sports the school programs benefit from the Youth programs that are largely run by its youth parents and generously supported by its local small town businesses and sponsors without which the programs could not be successful. Coach Koblek gave us a look into how she works with the younger youth programs to help support them as they develop the talented players that join the school teams later in their athletic careers. “During the offseason, the Girls Softball Rec Program utilizes me to help develop our youth pitchers.  Once a week, during the summer, I work with a group of girls. Since I have a great relationship with coaches from the Girls Rec league, they are very comfortable contacting me for “one on one” with pitching, slapping, and hitting.  The High School Softball team also provides 2 youth softball clinics, for the third consecutive year, during the winter that range from ages kindergarten to 8th grade.  I am very proud of the relationship I have with a lot of our youth softball players and take great pride that I know a lot of them by name and have built that friendly relationship.

 

All good student programs also have strong sponsorship and continuously need to look for ways to support the players as well all know the costs of sport programs is not cheap. Coach Koblek had this to say about new improvements to the fields this year made possible by Sponsorships  which will help make the team more competitive., ” I want to thank two new big sponsors for this softball program!”

1) “HSN (Hopewell Sports Nation) for providing story highlights so our community can read how our program is doing, but also giving the girls something to look forward to and boosting their confidence with a sense of pride. The girls enjoy reading about how the team/individual players have done and knowing the community sees our success. This has been a positive aspect to our community and something that has been missing for many years…THANK YOU HSN.”          

2) “CRISTYYANNN LLC is the other sponsor who donated money to move the outfield softball fence in from 248 to 200.  This is a huge positive booster for the team as homeruns stats are missed having the fence so deep.  This goes both ways, but playing more games on a regulated size field only makes it fair for our team.  Cristy Senskey is the name of the sponsor and she is a 2018 graduate of Hopewell High School.  She played soccer (2018 made state playoffs), gymnastics (WPIAL Champion and 3rd in State), and track (Long Jump, 100 yrd dash and the 4×1) during her years at Hopewell. Currently she is embracing life as a Fitness Influencers on Social Media with her ISSA Certification. She has workout programs, food recommendations, and is sponsored by DarcSport /Shedarcsport (code “CRISTY” for 10% discount) and Mr. Olympia Chris Bumstead through RAW.  THANK YOU CRISTY.” 

3) “The softball boosters are currently working with a potential sponsor to install a batting cage outside the home dugout. This will be an exciting addition to our program and development of our athletes.”

Finally we covered the big announcement of the Varsity Team’s Trip to Tennessee coming up next week during Spring Break. Coach Koblek gave us her perspective as to why these types of events are critical to the development of a great team. “From my very first season as the High School Softball Coach, I’ve been trying to get a trip South.  It all depends on the culture being built and the expectation of this program.  Hopewell has a lot of talent and if we continue to strive for success, I only see the program getting stronger. There are multiple reason the trip benefits the Hopewell Program:  a) The trip provides us better weather to get games in, before the section play begins.  The weather we get in March is tough to get games in. b) Playing teams we’ve NEVER seen before provides us a sense of confidence on how good we actually are. C)The team bonding these girls will get in being together and growing as a TEAM. The more we bond, inspire, and get motivated by our teammates, the better our season will be.  This is not a vacation for the girls, it is hard work and dedication to make this team the best it can be. I give a big THANK YOU to the Softball Boosters and my Player Parents for giving us this opportunity because without them, this trip would not be possible, said Koblek”. 

 

HSN wants to wish the Hopewell Varsity Softball Team good luck this season and to a successful Trip to the Ripken Experience in Tennessee next week. Roll Vikes!!!!

 

Hello Hopewell! While I am not originally a Hopewell native, it has been my home for over 12 years. My wife and I have three beautiful children that all play Hopewell sports including baseball and softball. My wife and I are both active in coaching our Children's teams. I am a member of the Hopewell Youth Baseball Board of Directors and you will probably see me out at the fields at least a few days a week. Most recently coaching my youngest sons TBALL team.

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