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Northern Tier West Sports Report
MANSFIELD — North Penn-Liberty returns a lot from last season’s team, and Lady Mountie Head Coach Jason Chapel is optimistic and excited to get his second season at the helm underway.

“We return every starter from last year,” Chapel says, “So in my eyes, every one of them will be a key to the success this team will have this season.”

NP-Liberty finished 14-6 last season .. a year after winning just five games .. and made a run at both an NTL and a District title. Chapel wants his young squad to build on those successes and not rest on their laurels. 
“We missed out on a share of the NTL title by one game last year,” Chapel says, “so that's our first goal .. to be in position at the end of the season to again contend for the NTL title. We’ll also continue to emphasize that although we had a successful season last year with such a young group, to never be satisfied .. until that ultimate goal they set last year on getting to states with a chance to win it all is met.”

Leading the way for the returning players is junior Makenzie Tice, last season’s All-Tioga County Player of the Year. Tice was integral in NPL’s turnaround last season, from both the pitcher’s circle and at the plate. The then-sophomore hit .453 and had an on-base-percentage of .518, racking up 34 hits on the season, including four doubles and a triple. She added 31 runs scored and 13 RBI, and was the Lady Mounties’ ace as well, throwing 80 2/3 innings while compiling a 7-3 record with a 2.00 ERA and 102 strikeouts.

Also back is Addie Smith, last season’s All-Tioga County Rookie of the Year, but the sophomore will not be able to pitch this season due to a shoulder injury. Smith hit .300 and had an OBP of .367 with 21 hits and 21 runs scored. 

“We lost a key pitcher .. arguably one of the best ones in the league,” Chapel says. “That's where you will see other girls step up, including the freshmen looking for innings in the circle. We have the pitching depth and the defense behind them.”

A strong core of junior returners join classmate Tice, including Saige Lehman (.297 BA, 22 H, 21 R, 20 RBI), Megan Spohn (.294 BA, 20 H, 18 R, 15 RBI), Payton Chapel (.275 BA, 14 H, 11 RBI), Mckenna Lightner (12 H, 12 R, 7 RBI), Marissa Griess (5 H, 8 BB) and Nikki Kiscadden (.409 OBP, 10 H, 17 R), while lone senior Alexia Kshir (.288 BA, .405 OBP, 19 H) also returns.

Coach Chapel will be looking to several players for help in the pitcher’s circle with the loss of Smith’s services, including daughter Payton, who threw six innings last season and surrendered just three hits to the 22 batters she faced, and freshman Haley Litzelman, who Coach Chapel says has “impressed” so far this early season. 

The Lady Mounties are looking to build on last year’s success, while also fixing some issues that Coach Chapel feels are key to reaching the next step.

“The one thing we are emphasizing this Spring is putting the ball in play with consistency,” Chapel explains. “I feel that was where we lacked last year .. being selective at the plate and putting the ball in play. Last year, getting a win in districts definitely helped this young group with confidence .. knowing we can play with anyone after losing a tight game 2-0 in the semis.”

NP-Liberty has a scrimmage set up for Thursday with Class A District 4 and State Champ Montgomery and is scheduled to open their season on Tuesday, March 28th at home against defending NTL-II champ Northeast Bradford. The Mounties will then visit Williamson, then will host NTL-I champ Wyalusing on April 4th.

The Lady Mounties’ non-league schedule will include a pair of games against two very solid opponents .. on April 26th at Corning-Painted Post and on May 11th at home versus Central Mountain.

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