Holy Cross Shortstop Reflects on High School Career

Lindsey Leppo

By Steve Svetovich

Lindsey Leppo had a decision to make four years ago. Coming from a public school she wasn’t sure if the transition to a private school would be an easy one.

But four years later the recent Holy Cross High School graduate said she made the best decision of her life.

Daughter of Jim and Denise Leppo, Lindsey, 18, hit .335 as the starting shortstop for the Holy Cross Lady Crusaders Lackawanna League District 2 title team.

A four year member of the Lady Crusaders softball team, Lindsey is now a major part of two consecutive district titles.

Holy Cross defeated Old Forge, 5-3, Thursday, May 31, at the University of Scranton’s Magis Field to earn this year’s district title.

Status-FastPitch-Game-Leather-SoftballAs one of the senior captains, Lindsey’s impact on the team came both on and off the field.

“I came from a public school (West Scranton Intermediate) to a Catholic school four years ago,” she said. “At the time, I was a little nervous and not sure if I made the right decision.

“Four years later, I would never change my decision. I played four years of softball here and made many friends. It has been such a great experience.

“It was the best decision I ever made in my life.”

Now a Dunmore resident, Lindsey looks forward to the PIAA Class 2A playoffs and will take her star to Kings College in the fall. She will major in business and economics and play on the Kings softball team.

“Our plan the whole year at Holy Cross was to come out on top,” she said. “We were waiting for this to happen. I am so happy about winning this district championship. We were underestimated in the beginning of the year.

“Our goal now is to keep winning in the state playoffs. We just can’t overdo it. We have to go with the flow and do our thing on the field.”

Lindsey, always positive and upbeat, said she learned so much from Holy Cross softball coach Joe Ross.

“He is my favorite coach ever,” she said. “He taught me how to deal with adversity. He told me to worry about the process and not the results. And then everything will fall into place.”

The scholar-athlete said her parents teach her “to always keep going and never give up.”

Lindsey talked about what it takes to be a successful shortstop in high school softball. “It takes a lot of communication on the field. And you need to develop a lot of confidence. If you have that, you have half your game down.”

The scrappy shortstop finished her senior year with a 3.2 grade point average. She was a member of the Language Club, the Service Club and a 2-year member of Student Council.

Her sister Lauren graduated from Holy Cross in 2015 and was also a standout member of the softball team. She currently plays softball for Wilkes.

KingsCollegeWilkesBarrePennsylvaniaLogoAnother sister Leah will enter Holy Cross as a freshman in the fall and will play softball.

Lindsey said she enjoys listening to music in her spare time and is a huge fan of reggae and the late Bob Marley.

She looks forward to the state playoffs and attending Kings in the fall.

“For now we want to keep winning as we go into the state playoffs. Then I am looking forward to playing four more years of softball at Kings and then doing something in the finance field.”

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Dunmore Senior Looking Forward to Academic, Softball Future

Athlete of the Month - Mia Mandarano

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore senior second baseman Mia Mandarano comes from a baseball-softball-academic family.

So it is not surprising that softball and college are in her immediate future.

Daughter of John and Rita Mandarano, Mia, 17, is enjoying her senior year at Dunmore to the fullest while she prepares for a future at Marywood University. She will play softball and major in Early Childhood Education at Marywood.

Two of her brothers, P.J., a junior pitcher, and John, a freshman shortstop, both Dunmore graduates, are currently at Marywood playing baseball.

Hmarywooder sister, Bella, plays with her as a junior center fielder on the Dunmore softball team.

Another brother, Joe, is a sophomore catcher on Dunmore’s baseball team taking after P.J. and John.

With a catcher, second baseman, shortstop, pitcher and center fielder in the family, the Mandarano family is very strong up the middle.

Mia talked about what it takes to be a solid second baseman in softball. “You need to know where the play is and tell the other players where to go. You need to be a leader in the infield.”

Mia has a 93 academic average. She is member of the tennis team. She is in several clubs, including SADD, TACT, the Spanish Club and the Earth Club.

She talked about her goals for the rest of her senior year. “I want to get my grades up even higher and finish strong. I want to help our softball team finish strong and win as many games as possible.”

And her future goals?

“I want to enjoy my time playing softball in college. I want to get my degree and become a teacher with elementary kids. Hopefully, I will get a job teaching at Dunmore. I would love that.”

Mia said she learned a lot from Dunmore softball coach Ryan Ferguson. “He taught me to always be confident on the field and have confidence in myself. He taught me to always keep your mind in the game. It’s a mental game and you should shake everything off in the end.”

And the scholar-athlete, humble in nature, credits her parents for much of her success. “My parents teach me to always stay positive. They tell me you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it. They really taught me everything in life.”

Mia enjoys listening to music in her spare time and particularly loves country music artist, Luke Bryan, who she saw a couple times in concert.

Mia, who hit two homers last season for Dunmore and has played softball most if her life,  has very good time management skills. “You need to always be prepared, organized and know what you are doing next. You need to understand everything you are doing.”

Appreciative and hard working, Mia is cherishing all the moments as she closes out her academic and athletic career at Dunmore.

“Dunmore High School has been great. I made so many great friends here. I will have these friends forever. The teachers were really great. They taught me so much. What they taught me will take me to the next level and the level after that.”

Dunmore Senior Shortstop is Savoring the Moments

Athlete of the Month - Richie GrippiBy Steve Svetovich

The Dunmore senior shortstop, a 4-year starter, knows he only has one month of high school baseball left. So he is taking it all in.

Son of Rich and Shannon Grippi, Dunmore, Richie Grippi is hitting .392 and has a 97 academic average.

A lead off hitter for Dunmore, the 18-year-old scholar-athlete will attend Pennsylvania State University and major in engineering in the fall.

“Going to Dunmore is the best,” he said. “Dunmore is a very unique community. It is close knit. There is no place like it. It’s been awesome.

“I know my baseball career is coming to an end. It really flew by. Everybody told me it would go by fast. And it did. I really can’t believe it. It just hasn’t set in with me yet.”

The senior standout has been playing baseball in Dunmore leagues since age five.

His late grandfather Doug Miele, former editor-reporter for the old Scrantonian Tribune, died six years ago this coming September. He attended everyone of his grandson’s games right to the end of his life. His wish was that his grandson have a successful and enjoyable high school baseball career at Dunmore.

That wish apparently was fulfilled to the fullest. “Have a good cheer,”  his grandfather would say when finishing a conversation or saying goodbye to a friend.

baseballRichie was also a 4-year member of the Dunmore basketball team. He averaged 10 points per game in his senior season as the shooting guard on the team.

He is president of the Spanish Club at Dunmore High School. He is a member of the French Club, Earth Club, SADD and TACT.

His favorite subject is math.

Richie likes listening to music in his spare time. His favorite musical artist is Luke Bryan.

The scrappy shortstop is among the league leaders in hits, doubles, runs and batting average this season.

He talked about what it takes to be a solid shortstop. “You need to have very good range. I played second base the previous three years, so I had to practice a longer throw. You need a strong arm and have to practice those long throws in the off season.”

Richie, humble but confident in nature, said his parents taught him a lot.

“My parents always taught me to work hard. They taught me to never let anyone out work you. And they tell me to do the right thing even when no one is looking.”

Richie has learned plenty from Dunmore baseball coach Sid Hallinan who is in his first year at the helm after several years at Riverside.

“Coach Hallinan teaches us to always compete. He tells us it is most important to go out there and work hard, but also have fun doing it. He has been great for us.”

A member of the National Honor Society, Richie has learned how to balance his time well. “It’s a challenge. But at Dunmore, academics always come first. It is easy to translate that out onto the field if you put academics first. It’s a nice balance. It all ties in together.”

He talked about his goals. “Well, this will be it for me in baseball. It just hasn’t sunk in yet. I probably won’t play anymore. I will concentrate on college and earning a degree. Law School in the future is also a possibility. I am thinking about that.”

In the meantime, Richie is enjoying his senior baseball season to the fullest.

Former Scrantonian Tribune staffer Doug Miele, with cancer, two weeks before he passed away, was in a rush to get out of his house and to the baseball field. He had to get to one of his grandson’s final summer baseball games.

“I live for that,” he said. “That boy is going to be some ball player.”

He was right.

Lady Bucks Fall One Win Short of State Title Game

Lady BucksBy Steve Svetovich

The Dunmore Lady Bucks finished a fabulous season with a loss in the PIAA Class 3A semifinal ending the team’s state title hopes.

The Lady Bucks (28-2) lost to Neumann-Goretti, 66-42, at Freedom High School in Bethlehem Monday, March 19.

The previous season’s state player of the year Jabria Ingram scored eight of her 18 points in the third quarter and Tattana Jones scored seven of her 11 as the Saints (21-7) silenced a Dunmore rally.

The Lady Bucks were down 15 points early in the contest, but had closed to within five points, 29-24, at the half.

The Saints were up, 15-2, less than four minutes into the game.

Then Dunmore junior guard Lisa Tallo passed to Victoria Toomey for a lay-up and a 3-point play. Toomey, who scored 18 points, had all nine for Dunmore in the first quarter.

Tallo scored 10 points and added six assists in the contest.

Dunmore played solid basketball in the second quarter starting with Tallo hitting a long shot after her team was down, 27-12.

Toomey and Gianna Delfino, who scored 10 points and hauled down seven rebounds, each hit a baskets. Toomey hit a 3-pointer to get Dunmore back in the game.

However, the Lady Bucks were hurt by turnovers in the second half and the Saints took over the game.

Plenty of controversy surrounded the Neumann-Goretti team going into the contest.

Diamond Johnson, the team’s second leading scorer in the PIAA playoffs, left her team in Hampton, Virginia, after averaging 33 points per game in 19 games, to join Neumann-Goretti, for whom she had played three games, all in the playoffs. Her fourth game came against Dunmore.

That raised a very serious question about Neumann-Goretti recruiting.

And not for the first time.

The PIAA is in the midst of the approval process to an amendment in its constitution that would address in season transfers like Johnson’s.

To the shock of many, the District 12 committee felt it could not deny Johnson’s eligibility.

Johnson matched Ingram’s 18 points and was a major factor in the defeat over the Lady Bucks coached by the veteran Ben O’Brien.

Johnson came into the game averaging 15.0 points in the three previous playoff games for the three-time defending state champions.

Still, coach O’Brien and the Lady Bucks showed class, offering no excuses for the loss.

Dunmore defeated Imhotep Charter, 57-42, in the Class 3A quarterfinal Friday, March 16, at Freedom High School in Bethlehem. Toomey led the Lady Bucks with 28 points in the win.

Tallo scored 12 points and had five assists for Dunmore. Kelly Quinn scored 11 points. Delfino added five assists.

Dunmore defeated Mount Carmel, 52-47, in the PIAA Class 3A second round game at Hazleton Area High School Tuesday, March 13.

Quinn led the Lady Bucks with 20 points, including a huge 3-pointer in the third quarter, to,lead the team. Tallo added 11 points and Toomey scored 10.

Dunmore totally dominated Philadelphia Academy, 45-9, in the opening round of the PIAA Class 3A playoffs.

Toomey led the Lady Bucks with an average of 16.8 points per game this season. Quinn averaged over 11 points and Tallo averaged close to 10.

The Lady Bucks have a lot to be proud of in a spectacular season that ended with only two losses in 30 games.