Photos: Lennie Malmgren, Kathy Leister, Donna Eckert, Dan Hilferty & Krystal Williams
By: John Knebels
PHILADELPHIA – If the Philadelphia Catholic League softball coaches collectively chose one team of nine starters to compete in a tournament, the players mentioned below would undoubtedly comprise seven of the nine positions.
The Pennsylvania High School Softball Coaches Association committee obviously agrees, as each performer was voted to the 2023 all-state team announced yesterday.
On the first team were recent graduates Katey Brennan of Conwell-Egan (outfield), Sabrina Pastino of Archbishop Ryan (outfield), Lauren Martin of Archbishop Carroll (first base), and senior Maura Yoos of Archbishop Wood (second base).
The second team included Conwell-Egan senior third baseman Molly Milewski, Conwell-Egan junior shortstop Cecelia McBeth, and Archbishop Wood graduate pitcher Dakota Fanelli.
Conwell-Egan is listed as a Class 3A school; Archbishop Wood, Archbishop Ryan, and Archbishop Carroll are listed as Class 4A.
“To be selected as an all-state player is a great honor,” said Conwell-Egan coach Sandy Hart. “I’m so proud of all three of them.”
The overall team success of Conwell-Egan certainly helped voters choose three players. In their third consecutive visit to the PCL final, the Eagles captured the championship this year.
Now a two-time all-state selection, Katey Brennan was named the PCL Position Player of the Year after having been chosen as the PCL Most Valuable Player as a junior. A student of the game who displayed a penchant for contributing key hits – none more huge than a two-run homer in C-E’s 6-3 title win – Brennan will play at Seton Hall University next year.
“I’m very honored to be recognized as an all-state player,” said Brennan. “I have really enjoyed my high school softball experience. This is an exciting way to end this chapter in my life and I couldn’t have done it without my amazing teammates.”
Conwell-Egan head coach Sandy Hart - PSD Photo by Lennie Malmgren
Conwell-Egan senior Katey Brennan #5, PA First-Team All-State Selection - PSD Photo by Donna Eckert
PA Second-Team selections Conwell-Egan senior third baseman Molly Milewski #8 and junior shortstop Cecelia McBeth #17 - PSD Photo by Donna Eckert
Brennan will keep tabs on Molly Milewski and Cecelia McBeth next year. The duet formed one of the area’s top defensive tandems on the left side of the infield and figure to do so again.
“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to play softball with my best friends and make some awesome memories at championship games,” Milewski said. “I’m honored to receive this award.”
For Ryan’s Sabrina Pastino, who fittingly slugged a home run in her final scholastic game – a second-round state tournament loss – making all-state added to a long list of previous accomplishments, the center of which was helping Archbishop Ryan accrue a 24-3 regular-season league record and 2021 PCL title over the past three seasons.
“I’m so blessed,” said Pastino, who will play at Jefferson University. “It shows me that the work I try and attempt to put in every day is really working out, and that other people are seeing it too.”
Archbishop Ryan senior Sabrina Pastino #35, PA First-Team All-State Selection - PSD Photo by Krystal Williams
Archbishop Ryan coach John Kidwell will miss his softball star both on and off the field.
“She was one of the best players in the PCL this year,” Kidwell said. “She had so many clutch hits for us this season, and it made the rest of our lineup so much better knowing she was batting cleanup for us.
“She also worked very hard in the outfield and she made herself into a very good defensive outfielder. She was an amazing leader for us.”
Archbishop Carroll senior Lauren Martin #10, PA First-Team All-State Selection and sister Maddie Martin #27 - PSD Photo by Dan HIlferty
Archbishop Carroll’s Lauren Martin proved to be one of the PCL’s toughest outs and remained among the league’s most explosive power hitters start to finish while flashing a steady glove at first base.
“This is a very big achievement that I am proud to share with my team and family,” said Martin, a first-team All-Catholic bound for Haverford College. “Carroll is a big part of my softball career, and this recognition for the school as well as our continuous efforts to build a competitive program is very exciting.
“The constant support from my team, coaches, and family allow me to be the best player I can be – especially my twin sister, Madison Martin (a first-team All-Catholic), who has been an incredible support in who I am as a player, and I am forever thankful.”
Carroll coach Mike Lorine said Martin’s spikes would be almost impossible to fill.
“We are so proud of Lauren,” said Lorine. “Having coached her at Carroll and the Patriots’ travel team for four years, I watched her put in the work and buy in to what hard work and focus does for a player. This is so well deserved, as Lauren was perfect in the field and carried our team at bat, really for the last three years.”
Archbishop Wood’s Maura Yoos, a two-time first-team All-Catholic, might be the PCL’s most underrated all-around players. Steady at second base, the leadoff hitter continually frustrated opponents by her ability to either bunt for a hit or slam line drives in all directions.
“It still honestly has not sunk in,” said Yoos. “With all the great players, it is definitely an accomplishment that I am grateful for.”
Teammate Dakota Fanelli easily could have been among the first-team selections after a second straight dominant performance on the hill, where she established a school record for strikeouts while remaining one of the PCL’s most feared hitters.
Still, finishing with all-state recognition fittingly concluded an outstanding career emphasized by being named this year’s PCL Most Valuable Player, along with being named the PCL’s Most Outstanding Pitcher two straight seasons.
Archbishop Wood rising senior Maura Yoos #12, PA First-Team All-State Selection - PSD Photo by Kathy Leister
Archbishop Wood senior Dakota Fanelli #8, PA Second-Team All-State Selection - PSD Photo by Kathy Leister
“In ninth grade, I made a list of all the goals I wanted to achieve in my high school career, and making all-state was never on my list because I knew how hard it was to get picked,” said Fanelli, who will pitch at Arcadia University next year. “Being chosen as second-team all-state is a honor and really means so much to me. It really puts the cherry on top of my high school career, and I couldn’t be more thankful.”
Archbishop Wood coach Jackie Ecker lauded her all-state pair, whose contribution significantly affected the Vikings’ 2022 PCL crown.
“Dakota and Maura have worked so hard both on and off the field,” said Ecker. “Not only are they some of the most skilled players in the state, but they are leaders – not only to their teammates, but future Vikings as well.
“I am so proud of their accomplishments. These accolades are so deserving, and I can’t wait to see what their future holds.”
(Contact John Knebels at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @johnknebels.)