In softball, it’s never easy to replace an established and talented veteran at one of the pivotal positions — pitcher, catcher and shortstop.
Among other positions, there’s a problem at catcher for Windham head coach Dave Hedge, who must replace Makayla Panich, who hit .417 this past spring as a senior after hitting .397 as a sophomore.
Well, Hedge may have hit the jackpot because he appears to have a more than capable new catcher with incoming freshman Ari DeCotis.
A solid catcher defensively from all reports, the 5-foot-7 DeCotis is a dynamo at the plate, possessing a keen eye and plenty of power.
This past spring for the Windham middle school team, DeCotis batted a hefty .667 with 8 home runs and 35 RBIs in just 13 games. Then, in 47 games playing with the Polar Crush, she hit .509 with 12 homers and 62 RBIs.
Last summer, she also showed good power while playing in a high level tournament in Oklahoma as a Region 1 USA All-American.
In reference to her power, DeCotis said: “I get it from my arms and legs. I don’t do any lifting ... I think I’m just naturally strong.”
And she obviously takes her hitting seriously. While she is also dedicated to improving defensively, she is really focused on her batting skills, which keep improving under the guidance of hitting coach John Pandalfo.
“I’m most proud of my hitting,” said DeCotis, who also plays third base and started playing some first base this year. “I think that’s what I’m really good at.”
Hedge has certainly taken notice.
“She (DeCotis) can hit with power and she doesn’t get cheated,” said Hedge. “She’ll be as good as some of the best hitters I’ve had.”
DeCotis is also a talented volleyball player and will play that sport in the fall at Windham, but her focus during the winter is on gearing up for softball, spending as much time as possible hitting and being immersed in an offseason program.
With a long range goal of playing college softball, DeCotis appears determined to accomplish just that. In the meantime, she’ll more than fill in for Hedge as the team’s catcher.