Another of the heroes of the 2017 state playoff run is getting ready to make her mark in the college ranks.
Cedar Cliff’s Avery Winchell committed Wednesday to Shippensburg University, she said, and the news was first tweeted by the Colts’ softball Twitter account.
She’s expecting to play second base or outfield with the Raiders, her primary positions with her club team, Spooky Nook Gold. Winchell has been going through the recruiting process since her freshman year, she said, and had narrowed down her choices to West Chester and SU.
“The thing that attracted me the most to Ship, other than the academics […] coach [Alison Van Scyoc] is looking to build the program into something special,” said the rising senior, who plans to major in exercise science.
“When I was making the decision, my mom asked me where my gut told me to go. […] As I thought about it more and more, my gut told me to go to Ship and be a part of it.”
Winchell helped guide the Colts on a historic playoff run in 2017 as a sophomore. The club started 1-3 before turning things around to become one of the Mid-Penn’s hottest teams. They would win their first ever District 3 championship, making the PIAA tournament for the first time and then advance all the way to the state championship at Penn State, falling to Donegal.
All the while, Winchell blasted homers and went 17-6 on the mound. She was an All-Sentinel Second Team pitcher that year and was named to the Mid-Penn Commonwealth First Team in 2018.
The 2018 season didn’t go quite so well for the Colts, who tried to overcome losses to graduation and an injury uber-talented shortstop Jimiah McDonald (ACL tear), getting knocked out in the first round of the District 3 playoffs.
Winchell still put up impressive numbers at the plate, batting .474 with 20 RBIs and nine runs scored. She threw more than 80 percent of the innings once again, going 10-6 with a 4.60 ERA and 49 strikeouts over 91.1 innings.
She is hoping to help the Colts go on one more playoff run in her final season.
“That program is so special to me,” Winchell said. “I really wanna leave with a bang and have a good season with them.”
For a squad that had never experienced notable playoff success until 2017, Winchell is now the latest of that Colts team to take her talents to college. Callie Wiebel, a 2018 graduate, is now preparing for her freshman season at Washington & Jefferson. And McDonald is already verbally committed to Marist.
The Raiders have several Mid-Penn products already on their roster. Winchell will join Shippensburg High School’s Courtney Coy, who wrapped up her freshman season with the Raiders, and 2018 Greyhounds grad Morgan Fetter. Big Spring product Madison Wickard, a sophomore outfielder this year, plus ormer Waynesboro and Palmyra grads Katie Wise and Kayla Bonawitz, respectively, are also SU underclassmen.
The PSAC program, guided by Van Scyoc, went 22-19 in 2018, falling to West Chester in the conference playoffs.