Softball sets goal to make playoffs

When the Yellow Jacket softball team starts its season March 7 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, it will have a new coach at the helm.

Brett Shimek will enter the diamond for his first season as head coach this spring. He brings a wealth of experience to the table, and replaces Richelle Hall, who led the Jackets for the past four seasons.

“I’ve coached travel softball for about ten years now with multiple different organizations,” said Shimek. “I feel like I have the coaching background and pedigree to come in here and be successful.”

Shimek has built his resume from experience being the head coach of the Pennsylvania Lady Knights, who are a 16-and-under fastpitch softball team based in Canonsburg. Additionally, he’s been the assistant coach of Waynesburg Central High School softball team for the past five seasons.

Shimek isn’t fazed by this transition to a new environment, which will include coaching older players, but he notices a distinct difference in the collegiate athletes already.

“I feel like the players that are here want to be here, and it’s more of a passion and a love for the game,” said Shimek.

Waynesburg sported a 12-20 overall record last season, which included a 5-13 mark in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. This placed Waynesburg in ninth out of 10 teams in the conference. Shimek, however, is excited about the experience that the team returns and believes it can be a key attribute for this year’s team.

“We have a veteran team coming back,” said Shimek. “So, that experience has prepared them for having a different result this year.”

When discussing which specific players he expects to play a key role, Shimek was straightforward about expecting his whole team to come through.

“I’m gonna say everybody,” he said. “We have 18 players on our roster and I feel like everybody is a vital piece to this program.”

Shimek also believes that an old-fashioned coaching philosophy will help to guide his team.

“I believe if you can pitch and play defense then you can compete and win those close games,” said Shimek. “We will produce runs and steal runs when needed.”

When it comes to pitching, however, Shimek said senior Courtney Messenger, as well as sophomore Emma Kubalak, will lead the way from the circle. Messenger appeared 22 times in 32 total games last spring.

“Pitching is going to be important for us,” said Shimek. “Courtney Messenger and Emma Kubalak are going to be important parts of us, in being successful this season.”

The goals for the team are direct, and Shimek has his sights set on Waynesburg softball reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

“We want to have a winning season and we want to make the PAC playoffs,” he said. “They’re big goals, and we’re hoping that we can come through.”

The Yellow Jacket softball squad will open up its season March 7-9, with a series of doubleheaders in the Fast Pitch Dreams Spring Classic in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The first game is set for the March 7  at 1:30 p.m. against Penn State Abington.