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MASHER IN THE MIDDLE: Following Big Freshman Season, Redbank Valley’s Quinn White Looking for Even More This Year

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Quinn White felt the butterflies fluttering away in her gut.

She squeezed the bat handle a little tighter as she stepped into the box for her first varsity softball game as a freshman last season at Redbank Valley.

It wasn’t a good start — for White, or the team — in a lopsided loss to West Shamokin.

Things, however, got better.

Much better.

White went on a season-long tear after that first, humbling game, climbing up the batting order as a masher in helping the Bulldogs steer out of an early season tailspin to make the playoffs.

White’s numbers were prodigious: a .554 batting average. Four home runs. Nine doubles. Eight triples and 27 RBIs in 20 games.

She only struck out three times all season. She slugged 1.054. Her OPS was a gaudy 1.625.

“I didn’t expect it,” she said. “I was definitely nervous coming in as a freshman on varsity.”

Once she got comfortable and began seeing the results, White was one of the toughest outs in District 9 and in the state.

Now the challenge for White this season as a sophomore is producing an encore to that command performance.

“Sometimes I think about it and I’m worried that I’m not gonna reach the standards that I reached last year,” White said. “But I know that I put in a lot of work.”

White realizes she can’t compare this season to the last. Word is out on White and she will undoubtably be pitched to differently.

Then again, she has taken steps to improve her game in a big way.

White joined the prestigious travel team, Pittsburgh Power, and further honed her skills at the plate and in the outfield during a rigorous offseason.

“I tell you, my hitting and fielding have improved so much since last season,” she said. “The technique of hitting and most definitely in fielding, I’ve gotten a lot better.”

That’s a scary thought for opponents.

(Quinn White)

Redbank Valley also returns a slew of talent from a team that shook off a poor start to finish strong.

White is just one of several players who put up big numbers last season.

Mackenzie Foringer batted .486 and was also a solid pitcher. Bella Orr was also an impact player as a freshman, hitting .397 with a pair of homers and a team-leading 10 doubles. Samantha Bowser also had an average above .300.

That’s a lot of protection in the lineup for White and a lot of potential for big things this spring for Redbank Valley.

“I am really excited. We’ve been putting in a lot of offseason work since August, every Sunday and a day during the week,” White said. “We’ve been working on hitting and we’re in a way better spot at this time than we were at the beginning of the season last year. We’re way ahead of where we thought we were going to be. We’re really excited about that.”

Last year was tough sledding in the first month of the season for the Bulldogs, who started 1-6 and appeared rudderless.

But the team got together and made a pact.

The losing was going to stop.

“We were really upset about our record and we just pulled ourselves together and we started becoming a family,” White said. “We started playing really, really well together.”

Redbank Valley won nine of the next 12 to make the playoffs, where the Bulldogs lost a heartbreaker to Elk County Catholic, 9-8, in the first round of the playoffs.

It left White and the team wanting more.

This year, they embarked on a spring trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Wednesday morning to get some games in before the season officially begins on March 22.

The trip may be just as important for team bonding as what happens on those fields down south.

“We really have a good core group back and we’re all best friends,” White said. “We’ve been doing team-bonding stuff and the trip to Myrtle Beach is just going to bring us closer together as a team.”

Taylor Ripple, who batted .349 last season as a sophomore, switched to track and field this spring. But Redbank Valley added Izzy Bond and Nevada Boyer to the ranks.

“We’re really excited to have them because they both played in the past,” White said. “At practice, they are doing really, really well. I have high hopes for them this season.”

Like Ripple, White left a sport behind when she opted to not play basketball this winter to focus on softball.

It was not a simple decision for White, but one she said she felt she needed to make.

Her experience early on with Pittsburgh Power led her down that path.

“I went to a couple of practices over the summer and I fell in love with the program,” White said. “The first two practices I was at, I knew it was serious business. And you know you’re going to improve. I sent (Redbank Valley girls basketball coach) Chris Edmonds a text and told him I was not playing basketball.”

She had mixed emotions, but new softball was it for her.

“As soon as I sent that text, it hit me that I wasn’t going to be out there this year, and I thought I was fine with that throughout the summer,” White said. “But once the season started, it hit me again. But I became OK with it.”

White’s future goals are simple: she wants to play softball in college.

She has already started preparing.

“We’ve been working on recruitment videos. I went to a couple of prospect camps,” White said. “I’m trying to get exposure early.”

Nothing will help that more than another standout season — for herself and Redbank Valley.

That’s something White is confident about — not butterfly nerves to start this season. Just steel.

“I honestly don’t care about my numbers that much,” White said. “I care about the team’s record more than myself. So I haven’t been focusing on my numbers lately. I’ve been working to help the team get better.”

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