June 15—Ken Wagner isn’t much of a howler in the third base coach area.
Just words of encouragement or a string of three numbers for his Lewisburg softball players to check on their cards if Wagner wants a sacrifice or a catch, a hit-and-run or maybe nothing at all.
Wagner does not react to bad calls at all.
This calm flows throw the Green Dragons team. You’d think a team that won all three of their PIAA Class 3A playoff games by a combined score of 32-3 didn’t have many bumps in the road, but Lewisburg had to escape traffic jams during each of his last two games against Kutztown and Palmerton before his offense finally withdrew.
“For me, it just helps me relax. We know no matter what, it’s always about the team,” second-year wide receiver Sydney Bolinsky said. “If we make a mistake, he’s not going to get angry and our teammates are there to support us.”
Lewisburg junior first baseman Gracie Murphy added: “We were always taught not to worry about those kinds of things. You can’t control a mistake or something going wrong our way, you can’t let that affect us.”
When Wagner started coaching girls, he knew he would have to change his approach at least a little. He certainly couldn’t approach the job of coaching Lewisburg softball the same way he coached the Lewisburg Legion North Branch League team that Wagner won an NBL title in 1992. Wagner played with his late father , Ken Sr., and his brother, Kevin, who is the first base coach for the Lewisburg softball team.
“You have to know your players. You have to nurture them,” Wagner said. “This group likes to be balanced and stay there.”
Senior third baseman Erin Field added: “I played Little League for Ken since I was 6 or 7. I played travel ball for him until last summer. I played for him for a while. It keeps us calm. He and Kevin are both great at that.”
These traits also paid off in a different way on Monday. After winning the quarter-finals, the Green Dragons knew they would face a team in the semi-finals that their two previous opponents – Palisades and Kutztown – had beaten fairly easily in district championship games before the start of the league play-offs. PIAA.
The Green Dragons quickly showed they weren’t forgetting Palmerton, despite the Blue Bombers losing to a side Lewisburg beat 14-0 in the first round of the playoffs.
“We knew we couldn’t care less about it,” Field said. “We just have to worry about ourselves.”
Wagner knows his Green Dragons so well because he’s been training them for so long. He started with some of the Lewisburg girls from their time on the field at Little Leaguers and coached them through many summers of ASA softball.
“I’ve known most of these girls since they were 6 or 7 years old. I coached them in Little League. Where these girls started from, they couldn’t catch the ball yet. They still had little mitts of Mickey Mouse,” Wagner said. . “Now to play for a state championship, I’m so happy and proud of them.”
Lewisburg plays at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Beard Field on the Penn State University campus against Avonworth for the state championship.