Green Dragons have had a remarkable turnaround | News, Sports, Jobs
Less than a decade ago, Lewisburg softball was mired in a 54-game losing streak that lasted three years. At that time, the gap between Lewisburg and a district championship seemed as wide as the universe.
But then something strange happened. Slowly the dark clouds began to part and some light shone through. This program has begun to make rapid progress.
In 2018, Lewisburg was a playoff team for the first time in 18 years. Another semi-final appearance came last year. And now something that would have been laughable 10 years ago has come true.
Lewisburg is the top Class AAA team in District 4.
The Green Dragons won the program’s first district championship since 1996 last Tuesday, beating Central Columbia, 7-4. Lewisburg now turns its attention to the state tournament and will face District 11 champion Palisades on Monday at a District 11 venue. A program that has languished for so long is one of the top 16 Class AAA teams in the state.
Talk about a remarkable turnaround.
“It means a lot. To be the ones who transformed the program 4 or 5 years ago, at this point is huge not only for the program, but for them,” said Lewisburg coach Ken Wagner. “They are the ones who worked hard to get here.”
“It means a lot to be the game-changing team for everyone,” said catcher Sydney Bolinsky. “It makes a big difference.”
Wagner took over in 2017 and his first team went 4-16, which was a slight improvement. It was the following year, however, that Lewisburg made a leap forward. The 2018 team went 16-5, won its first playoff game of the 2000s, and reached the district semifinals. Lewisburg missed the playoffs in 2019 but came back strong last year, finishing 17-5 and reaching the semis again.
All but one starter returned from this team, so expectations were high. Lewisburg, however, started 0-2 and bad weather only saw them play three games in the first three weeks. Since then, the Dragons (16-3) have won 16 of 17 games and played some of their best softball at the most opportune times.
The work continues, but Lewisburg has gone where no other softball team has gone in 25 years. What an ascent it has been.
“I think it means a ton to bring that plaque back to our halls; it’s super big,” said winning pitcher Kimmy Shannon after the championship. “Our lacrosse boys are also coming off district wins, so it’s exciting to have two sport winning districts in the same season. It’s a really big moment for us and I’m super proud to be part of it.
“Last season having only lost one senior and being semi-finalists, we were hungry for it this year,” said Bolinsky. “I think with each class to come, we’ve just gained a lot of talent and it’s a well versed team from top to bottom. Everyone does their part. »
They certainly are.
Sometimes a team can win a championship with one pitcher or with a few exceptional players. Lewisburg relies on everyone and presents the most balanced offense in the district. Put it all together and the Dragons had exactly what it took to take on perennial contenders Loyalsock and Central and win that elusive championship.
Wherever Lewisburg is in order, threats exist. Different players delivered throughout the season and Ryan Brouse had a big day against Central, going 4-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. The Dragons drove in 12 hits and Rylee Dyroff added two. Shannon and Alexis Walter formed a strong rotation and combined on a no-hitter early this season against Loyalsock.
Loyalsock won the title last year and Central reached the state semifinals. The two had blocked Lewisburg’s championship path in the last two playoffs, so perhaps it was fitting that they stood in the way again. The Dragons rallied after two runs to beat Loyalsock, 3-2 in the semi-finals before coming face to face with the team that eliminated him last time out.
Lewisburg were the only team to beat central ace Mea Consentino this year, but they got injured this time. The Dragons would have been tough to beat no matter what and ended their league run with a fabulous team performance.
“It’s really even better because these two teams are just great. Every time we play them it’s a tight game. Brouse said. “Even without Mea (Consentino) pitching, they’re still a great team. It really made him feel a lot better.
Lewisburg feels much better than before. And the good feelings could continue. Not only will Lewisburg come back a good group next season, they also have a strong high school program.
Lewisburg clearing that 26-year-old hurdle can only help. A district championship is no longer a far-fetched dream, nor is reaching the state tournament where Lewisburg hopes to continue raising the bar. This team showed them the way.
“I think we just want to carry on from here. It’s been so long since they won and I think we’ll have a good team again next year. Brouse said. “We are losing a lot of key players, but we can fill those holes as best we can. But we want to do our best to keep going and keep going.
“We don’t want this long break anymore.”