Athlete of the Month: Emma Conte

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore Lady Bucks senior shortstop Emma Conte is once again among the Lackawanna League Division III leaders in homers and batting average.

Emma, 18, at press time was leading Lackawanna League Division III hitters with six home runs. She was also among the league’s leading hitters with a .522 batting average.

And last season she hit a robust .550 with seven homers.

Daughter of Rich and Kim Conte, Emma is a three-year member of the Dunmore softball team. She is a two-year member of the Dunmore Lady Bucks volleyball team and is a member of the Spanish Club, French Club, SADD and TACT. Emma has a 91 grade point average at Dunmore.

A transfer from Riverside, where she played softball as a freshman, she was first team all-state, All Regional and a first-team Lackawanna League all-star last season.

Emma has not selected a college yet, but knows she wants to continue her softball career and study to become a physician’s assistant.

The slick fielding senior shortstop said her parents taught her a lot about the game. “They both played and were pretty good at it, so I learned a lot from them. They tell me to always be at my best and to be a leader. They tell me to get my teammates going. Keep them up.”

She talked about her future goals. “I want to continue playing softball in college and study to become a physician’s assistant. I want to work hard and get a good job.”

Emma, personable and hard working, said she enjoys listening to music in her spare time and would like to see Post Malone in concert.

The senior standout talked about what it takes to excel at the shortstop position in high school softball. “You need to be loud and call out the plays. You need to be a leader and keep your team up and positive. You need to be able to pick your team up when things aren’t going right.”

She has learned a lot from Dunmore Lady Bucks softball coach Ryan Ferguson. “He is a great coach,” Emma said. “I can’t begin to tell you how much I have learned from him. He teaches us we have to work as a team. He is very big on that. He tells me I have to be a leader. He is not just a coach, but a friend to all of us. We are a team under him.”

Well-spoken and always positive, Emma said she has thoroughly enjoyed her experience at Dunmore.

“We have great success here at Dunmore because of my teammates. We all get along so well. You are playing with your best friends.

“My teammates are my best friends on and off the field. We work as a close knit team.

“And that is one of the big reasons I love it here at Dunmore. I have the best friends and teammates all in one.”

Holy Cross Standout Shortstop Wants to Give Back

By Steve Svetovich

Holy Cross Lady Crusaders shortstop Carly Wywoda has excelled on the baseball diamond for a long time.

And eventually, when the time comes, she wants to give back.

As a freshman, she hit five homers for the Lady Crusaders. There was no softball season due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Carly’s sophomore year, but she came back to hit nine homers and then hit over .600 in her junior year.

This season, Carly has one homer and is batting .474 at press time.

Daughter of Pete and Georgeann Wywoda, the senior standout was named first team all-state, first-team All Regional and was a Lackawanna League Division III first-team all-star selection last season.

Carly has a highly impressive 4.18 academic average at Holy Cross. Her best subject is math.

She is a member of Student Council and the National Honor Society.

Well-spoken and polite, Carly talked about what it takes to excel as a shortstop in high school softball. “Well, for one thing,” she said, “it takes a great second baseman. I have that in Priscilla Grill. That is 100 percent, Priscilla. I can always rely on her and know where she is going to be. She has also been my best friend for a long time, so we work together extremely well. You also need a lot of mobility and you need to be a leader to play shortstop.”

Carly will attend Mansfield University where she will play softball and study math secondary education next year. Carly will attend Mansfield on both academic and athletic scholarships.

“I want to become a math teacher on the high school level,” she said. “I also want to get into coaching high school softball. I want to give back and teach kids what coaches taught me.”

The senior scholar-athlete said she enjoys listening to country music and has seen Kenny Chesney in concert twice.

She talked about lessons learned from Holy Cross veteran softball coach Joe Ross. “He always teaches us that no matter what happens on the softball field, it is all about the team. It is more about the team than the individual. You need to always be there for your teammates.”

The talented shortstop said her parents also taught her a lot. “My parents teach me to respect everyone, including kids, adults, senior citizens, teachers, school, and coaches. They tell me to show respect with everything I do. And always work towards a goal.”

Carly said she is looking forward to becoming a teacher and coach someday. “I want to inspire kids as a coach, just as my coaches inspired me. And I want to inspire my students in the classroom to be the best they can be.

“I want to be a secondary education teacher, but most of all would like to be a safe spot for kids to come to. I want students to be able to come to me with any issue or problem and feel safe about it.”

The articulate senior said she is looking forward to the rest of the Holy Cross softball season. “We started the season with a 4-2 record, so we are looking to play our remaining games at a very competitive level. We want to come out swinging and confident. We need to play well as a team and be aggressive.”

Carly said her experience at Holy Cross High School has been the best. “I made the best choice ever coming here,” she said. “The academics and softball here are the best. I would have no better opportunity. And I have made so many friends. The opportunities here are so great.”

Dunmore Freshman Steps Up Her Game

By Steve Svetovich

As a freshman in the Dunmore Lady Bucks starting five, Sophia Talutto made her mark as the season progressed.

But she really stepped up her game when all-state junior center Ciera Toomey went down with a torn ACL in the Lady Bucks district title win over Scranton Prep, 43-42, Thursday, March 3, at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Dunmore senior Moriah Murray hit the game-winning bucket in the district title win while senior Mia Blume led the Lady Bucks with 11 points, but the talented freshman Talutto chipped in with eight points, including two key 3-pointers.

Murray led the way with 32 points in the Lady Bucks 51-25 win over Shamokin in the PIAA Class 4A first round win Wednesday, March 9, but Sophia added 12 points as the team’s second leading scorer.

Murray scored 35 points in Dunmore’s 62-53 overtime win over Villa Joseph Marie in the PIAA Class 4A second round contest Sunday, March 13, at Easton Middle School. Sophia and Mia Blume were the team’s second leading scorers with 12 points each.

The Lady Bucks lost 40-39 in the PIAA Class 4A quarterfinal at Berwick High School Wednesday, March 16, but Sophia led Dunmore in scoring with 14 points.

So the scrappy freshman became a mighty contributor in the playoffs, with standout teammate Ciera Toomey on the sidelines. Sophia, Moriah, Mia and a few others stepped up their games to the max.

Daughter of Lori and Joseph Talutto, Dunmore, Sophia, 15, averaged about 8.5 points per game as a freshman shooting guard this season.

Her sister Anna Talutto was a key four-year member of the Dunmore Lady Bucks and currently attends Penn State.

“My sister was known for her defense,” Sophia said. “And I learned a lot just by watching her play. She taught me a lot about how to,play good defense. I pattern a lot of my game after her.”

Sophia said she and her teammates were thrilled with the district title win. “A lot of it was for Ciera. We became more aggressive after she went down and fought hard to help get her a district title. We all stepped up, played with more confidence, and played together as a team. We were so happy to get that win. We were happy for Ciera and all of us as teammates.

“With Ciera going down early in that game, it was bad. We all felt bad at first. There were a lot of emotions and then we came through.

“Winning the district championship was the greatest feeling ever.”

Well-spoken and intelligent, Sophia has a 98.5 academic average at Dunmore. She is a member of the TACT Club and is a left wing on the soccer team.

She has played AAU basketball for five years on the NEPA Elite.

Sophia said her parents are a strong influence. “They teach me to always keep going. If you get knocked down, you need to get right back up.”

She has learned a lot from Dunmore veteran basketball coach Ben O’Brien. “He gave me a lot of confidence and is very supportive of everything.”

Sophia enjoys rap music and said she would like to see Tyler the Creator in concert.

As a freshman, she is enjoying her time at Dunmore and looking forward to the next three years. “Freshman year has really been great,” she said. “I’ve made a lot of memories and friendships. I love the community. We have great fans.”

Sophia has time to decide on a college and major, but there is one thing she knows for sure when the time comes. “I want to play basketball in college. I love the game.”