Saint Stephen’s had its two-year run as district champions snapped in 2016, but the young Falcons appear poised for big things over the next few seasons. The roster is filled with underclassmen – and middle schoolers – who continue to gain confidence as they play together.
All eight Falcons who appeared in 17 games or more last season were sophomores or younger. Five of those players hit better than .300, and freshman pitcher Amy Woodworth was a workhorse on the mound, throwing 89.2 innings with a respectable 4.68 earned run average. As a team, the Falcons hit .283.
Rising juniors Claudia Sbaschnik and Lenae Jones (pictured) will again provide the leadership in 2017. Sbaschnik, the team captain, batted .319 with a team-high seven extra base hits and 14 RBI. Jones paced the Falcons with a .364 batting average and 18 stolen bases.
The current roster, given time, should help SSES build on a softball tradition that, since 2001, includes seven district titles and an appearance in a regional championship game in 2015.
The program’s history boasts several impact collegians. Heading that list is former Notre Dame star Cassidy Whidden, who was a two-time team captain and MVP for the Falcons. She was named all-state as a SSES freshman, hit safely in every game as a junior when she batted .588, and went errorless throughout the season while playing shortstop.
Whidden was just as impressive with the Irish, finishing her career tied for fourth place on the program's all-time home run list with 35 – the most ever by a Notre Dame catcher. She was also fifth in slugging percentage (.597), one of 17 Irish players to have a career on-base percentage of .400 or higher (.406), and posted the eighth-best fielding percentage (.989) in program history during her final two seasons as the team’s primary catcher.
The Falcons play their home games at the beautiful Moore Athletic Complex on campus and are led by veteran Head Coach Mike Verrill, who has nearly 40 years of coaching experience on his resume. Verrill was previously the head baseball coach at Braden River High School and Out-of-Door Academy. Among other posts, he has also served as an assistant at Bowdoin College in Maine.
Softball is FHSAA sanctioned and is a spring season sport.