SOFT Spring Feature: Who could have potentially made it into the AOTY bracket from Wilkes softball?


Madison Hummer

No. 8 Maddie Kelley (women’s basketball/field hockey) and No. 19 Karlye Huffman (women’s volleyball) will face-off in the final Twitter poll to determine the Women’s Athlete of the Year for 2020. Voting will take place on Twitter on the @WilkesBeacon account. Voting begins at 8 p.m. on Wednesday and runs until 8 p.m. on Thursday.

Due to the ongoing situation caused by COVID-19, the NCAA has taken drastic action and canceled its winter sports championships, as well as the entire season for its spring sports. As a result, multiple teams at Wilkes University were unable to play out their season, and many potential stars were not given the chance to shine this spring.

One team that was greatly affected by the cancelation is Wilkes’ softball team. The Colonels were coming off a stellar season in which they finished 26-16, their most wins in a single season in over a decade. 

The program was on the upswing, finishing with more than 20 wins in three straight years, and qualifying for the MAC Freedom tournament for the second time in three years. The team was excited to build upon that momentum, and was looking forward to continuing their streak of recent success. 

Wilkes was selected third in the preseason MAC Freedom coaches’ poll, meaning the team was likely to compete for a playoff spot and have another solid campaign. 

The Colonels even had a coaching change in the offseason, as four-year head coach Sarah Leavenworth stepped down from the job to take the head coaching position at Muhlenberg College, and Jackie Klahold was brought on to take the reins of the program. 

Klahold experienced substantial success at her previous institution of Penn College, so expectations were high coming into the season. 

As for the players, two standout seniors, Gracen Stauton and Sarah Gibson, have unfortunately played their last game for the Colonels due to this situation. Last season, both were named to the MAC Freedom first-team, with Staunton being selected as a first-team utility player and Gibson being named as a first-team designated player.

Both players had potential to reach The Beacon’s Athlete of the Year tournament. Staunton has been seeded in the tournament the past two years, even winning the competition in her sophomore campaign. 

Last season, Stauton did just about everything for the Colonels, compiling a 2.42 ERA with two shutouts across 114 innings pitched. At the plate, Stauton had a notable .324 batting average, hitting two home runs with nine RBIs.

Gibson was a rock behind the plate last season, playing multiple positions in the field and posting a .991 fielding percentage. She also put up decent numbers at the plate, hitting for a .257 average with one home run and 16 RBIs. 

Both seniors will be missed, and it is unfortunate that they won’t have the opportunity to play out their senior year and make one final playoff push. However, the Colonels will look to get back to their winning ways and continue the program’s upswing when play resumes next season.