Archbishop Walsh Academy Brings Back Girls' Softball

Team members are pictured on a sunny day.
Teachers Justin Barleben and Jennifer Sweeten are the softball team coaches.

OLEAN, NY – Archbishop Walsh Academy had been offering but two spring athletic options for girls over the past few years: tennis club or boys' baseball. This school year, Walsh brought back a third: girls' softball.

The team played its first scrimmage March 27 at home against Ellicottville High School and will play another scrimmage at Ellicottville Monday

Although the score against Ellicottville was not recorded, “we scored four legitimate runs," Jennifer Sweeten, one of the two coaches, reported. "We had quite a few girls get on base, and several others hit the ball.”

Sign Up for E-News

The team will play its first official game of the season at home against Salamanca High School on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

When the school re-introduced softball this academic year, Sweeten, a fourth-grade teacher at Southern Tier Catholic, was one of two faculty newcomers to volunteer to coach. The other, high school chemistry teacher Justin Barleben, does not play the sport but has been a Section VI baseball umpire.

“I grew up around baseball, too. My dad was a varsity baseball couch in Niagara County,” said Barleben, who also teaches middle-school math at Southern Tier Catholic, which shares a campus and an administration with Walsh.

Sweeten said she started playing softball when she was 5 and continued playing through most of her high school years.

“It’s always good to have another option for the girls,” Sweeten said. “This can help with time management as well.”

The 17 softball players, in grades 9 through 12, spent the winter weeks practicing in the batting cage in the Walsh basement. Barleben noted that he and Sweeten had to introduce some to the swinging of a bat.

“Some of these girls have never played before,” Barleben said. “I think our biggest difficulty in these first few games will mainly be pitching. We have two sisters, Willow Greer, a senior, and Grace, who is a sophomore, pitching first. They’ve been working at it the most. Mykaylah Shaw has been working very hard too.”

Grace Greer has played both boys’ varsity soccer and baseball.

Other team members, including senior Jade Swick, played when they were younger.

“The last time I played was when I was six,” Swick said. “This is the first time I’ll really be playing competitively.”

Barleben said he and Sweeten find it exciting as first-time teachers to coach the softball team.

“It’s nice for both of us because we don’t get to interact with the older girls,” he said, adding two players are his students. “It’s a cool option for the high school girls.”

Sweeten coached another two Walsh students during the basketball season.

One of those basketballs player is junior Luca Preuss, an exchange student from Hamburg, Germany, who said she never played any game with a ball before a few months ago.

“I dance back home, and I really wanted to try American sports,” Preuss said. “This is a really great team. Everyone helps each other.”

Team members had to buy gloves, cleats and pants. Funds for the rest of the gear were raised by the Booster Club and donated by someone who wishes to remain anonymous.

Athletic Director Pete Ebert said he had been trying to reintroduce softball “during the past four years I’ve been here. Before, there was a lack of interest, but now we have committed coaches and committed girls.”

As for effort: “These girls are definitely putting it in,” Sweeten said. “They come in to optional practices. …They’re good athletes, and we’re lucky to have them.”

The weather has not been suitable to outdoor softball practices, Barleben said.

“About 75 percent of our focus at practices has been hitting,” he added. “A lot of our girls are making great progress and making good contact with the balls.”

The team also has focused on defensive training, base running and learning the basics of the game and has watched college softball games on YouTube.

The softball team will play a total of 14 games, including a scrimmage against Olean High School that will be rescheduled because of rain.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Greater Olean

Bonnies Historic Season Will Give Community Source of Pride Years to Come

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY -- The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball season came to an end earlier than the team had hoped. Coaches looked disappointed, and players covered their faces with towels. St. Bonaventure’s (26-8) loss to Florida (21-12) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament left many thinking what if?

However, the Bonnies historic season is nothing for the team to ...

Sights and Sounds: The First Four of the NCAA Tournament

Traffic is a common occurrence, but for fans of the Dayton Flyers, it’s a usual event every gameday. A trip across the Great Miami River leads to the Flyers’ athletic complex. It became the same ritual for Bonnies fans heading to the University of Dayton Arena for the team's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012.

Snow, sleet and hail pounded down on the car as we ...

My Experience: What Almost Was Not

DAYTON, OHIO -- I almost didn’t get to shoot the game.

My media credential got all messed up because I neglected to go through one minor process (I’m an idiot lol and didn’t check my email). Luckily, some amazing people and friends helped push my name through, and I was granted media access to Tuesday's match against UCLA. For them, I am truly grateful and beyond ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, March 24, 7:00 PM

Cuba-Rushford Middle High School Auditorium, Cuba

Cuba-Rushford Drama Club presents "Les Miserables"

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, March 24, 7:00 PM

Archbishop Walsh Academy, Olean

St. Patrick's Day Party and Raffle

Giving Back

Sun, March 25, 12:00 PM

St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure

SBU Hip Hop Team Sponsors Dance Workshops for ...

Arts & Entertainment

Cattaraugus County Arts Council Announces Grant Awards

March 22, 2018

OLEAN, NY—The Cattaraugus County Arts Council has announced the recipients of the Arts Education, Artist in Community, and Community Arts grants for 2018.

The awards ceremony will be held on March 27, beginning at 6 p.m., at Jamestown Community College in the Magnano Room in the Cutco Theater. The event is free and open to the public with live music and refreshments.

Funded by the New ...

Quick Center Honors High School Artists

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY—The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University honored 93 young, local artists at the center’s annual High School Juried Art Exhibition.

Works were selected for the exhibition from 300 submissions after an extensive jurying process by professional judges. Participating schools included Allegany-Limestone, Andover, Austin, Belfast, ...

'A Day in the Life': One Transportation Supervisor Serves Portville and Olean

PORTVILLE, NY – A whiteboard with dozens of destinations and vehicle numbers written in various colors sits inside the Portville bus garage, ready to be changed at any moment. David Youngs, the transportation supervisor of the Portville and Olean School Districts, knows that before 2 almost every afternoon, he is likely to receive an email changing the entire meticulously planned ...

'A Day in the Life' Follows Della Moore of the African American Center for Cultural Development

OLEAN, NY – When Della Moore walks down the street, she greets everyone she passes and makes sure to ask, “How are you doing?” 

From the moment I joined her at the 7-Eleven on a cloudy, cold December morning until we finished making our stops along State and North Union streets, she remained ...

'Day in the Life' Follows Warehouse Selector Justus Elliot

OLEAN, NY -- For Justus Elliot, time and pace are essential. As a warehouse selector for Olean Wholesale Grocery Co-Op, most of the 21-year-old’s job calls for efficiency.

“Everything is time-based," Elliot explained. "One hundred percent is the norm, and it’s what we work for every day. If our score is less, then we are moving too slow, and we kick it into ...

Happy Veterans Day, Mom

What began as an attempt to boost her GPA soon turned into a 22-year career for my mom, Ramona Lee Discavage.

On the first day of her freshman year at St. Bonaventure University in 1989, members of the Army ROTC Seneca Battalion helped incoming freshmen move their stuff into their dorm rooms.  Afterward, they invited all of the freshmen to a lunch.

“When they described the ...

Lynn Kemp: ‘Best Soldier I Could Be’

Lynn Kemp is nearing 95 and knows he has lived a good life.

“The good Lord has been awful good to me,” recalled the lifelong resident of Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania. “I never refused an order. I tried to be the best soldier I could be. I don’t know what your relationship is with God, but mine is pretty close.”

Born Oct. 29, 1920, Lynn grew up in a home on Turkey ...

WW II museum provides role models for young people

When Steve Appleby asks area students if they know Snoop Dog, Eminem, Kanye West, the Kardashians, Parris Hilton or Miley Cyrus, they answer yes. Then Appleby will ask which of them knows Jason Dunham is, and the students will not have a clue.

Appleby will explain that Jason Dunham was a Marine from Scio, in Allegany County, New York, who was killed in Iraq in 2006 after jumping on a grenade ...