Eastern and Peebles made runs in the district in 2017 and are looking for more in 2018.
Georgetown is hoping to getting back to claiming sectional titles as a norm while Manchester is expected to have marked improvement in a tough Division II Southern Hills Athletic Conference. West Union and Ripley seek improvement from a tough 2017.
Here’s a look at the Ohio coverage area softball teams for 2018.
Outlook: The Lady Indians went 18-4 in ‘17 and have a shot at being even better in ‘18. They’ll be paired with Fairfield, Whiteoak, Manchester and Fayetteville in what expects to be a competitive SHAC small schools conference. Lady Indians coach Doug McFarland thinks they’ll be chasing one team for the SHAC title.
“I think Fairfield is still the team to beat. Although we should be right there for the league title, until we notch a victory against Fairfield they get my nod. Manchester will be much improved, along with Fayetteville,” McFarland said. “I look for the league to be very competitive this year.”
Players to Watch according to McFarland: Jr. Madison Pierce-P, Util., Jr. Kylie Sims-C, So. Christian Reed-3B and Jr. Jerilin Toller-2B, OF all look to improve their all-district numbers from a year ago. But, these players should also put up very good numbers and make a push for all-league and all-district honors as well. Others to watch include Sr. Hailey Moore-SS, Jr. McKenzie Swango-DH, 1B (missed 2017 season due to injury), Sr. Josie Myers-1B, P, Sr. Matti Nichols-LF and So. Hope Brown-RF, Util. I also look for Alison Behr-CF-10 to provide speed and solid outfield play to our line-up. We also have two talented freshmen that will push their older peers for playing time. Brycelyn Short will provide us solid pitching and hitting, and Kyndall Lloyd will be a solid bat, as well as back up catcher and utility.
“Our goals are to improve everyday, win league (gold glove) and win a state title. Lofty expectations, but i feel these girls have the ability and determination to achieve these goals,” McFarland said.
Outlook: The Lady G-Men enter ‘18 looking to get back to winning sectional titles like they did in ‘15 and ‘16 after a first round playoff exit in ‘17. The task will become a little tougher as they’ve moved up to Division III. They have some roster turnover but do return three senior starters, including Gracie Keplinger, who has signed with Shawnee State.
“We’re excited to get another season started. I’m optimistic for another good season,” Lady G-Men coach Gar Siegla said.
Players to Watch according to Seigla: Keplinger, Caylee Graham and Mackenzie Bridges
“I am expecting them to carry the bulk of the offense and we have prepared accordingly. I feel our biggest challenge will be getting quality innings from the circle. We have a young/inexperienced pitching staff, but have worked hard these past few months to develop some consistency in that area,” Seigla said.
Goals: After an 11-11 finish in ‘17, the Lady G-Men’s goal is pretty simple…
“As each year, our goal is to put numbers on our banner and make memories along the way that support our vision of team and growth,” Seigla said.
Outlook: The Lady Hounds are looking to do something they haven’t since 1994, win a sectional title. With a lot back from last year from a team that went 9-14 and a lot of interest in the program with 20 kids, optimism persists.
“We’ve got a good mix of seniors and juniors, a couple sophomores and some freshman that will get some playing time. Trying to adjust to that and it’s a big goal for us that everybody can handle it.” Lady Hounds coach John Kennedy said. “Our main focus is to improve upon last year and go from there.”
Manchester will look to improve on its defense, a weakness in past seasons. Offensively, they can go a lot of different routes, they have speed to generate runs and a couple girls that have power.
Players to Watch according to Kennedy: Karley Young-3B, Mount St. Joseph signee, hits second, good leader, move people around, gap-to-gap hitter. Katie Sandlin-2B, real good speed, hits fifth, hit game-winning sac fly in season opener. Josie Campbell-C, clean-up hitter, leader of the team, expecting a big year out of her. Aalyiah Smith-CF, amazing speed, slap hitter, hoping to have a good year for us. Madison Jones-P/SS. Brooke Kennedy-P/SS, hits third. Gabby Brown, RF-Taylor Morrison-RF, hits ninth, second leadoff hitter at the bottom of the lineup with her speed, learning outfield.
Goals: With a competitive Division II in the SHAC, the Lady Hounds will look to be competitive with the likes of Fairfield and Peebles, the two expected to compete for the conference title. Fayetteville-Perry is also much improved.
“We’re hoping it preps us for postseason, we have to play those three twice, it might hurt us for seeding, but will help us in the long run,” Kennedy said.
Despite having three underclassmen who will primarily be in the circle with Brooke Kennedy, Gabby Brown and Madison Jones, coach Kennedy feels their experience with travel ball in the offseason will help. Kennedy also stated they’ll have depth in the circle, using five pitchers overall.
Outlook: The Lady Warriors are coming off a 2017 campaign in which they were district runner-ups. They want to get over that hump this year and claim a district title.
“Our defense has to get a lot better, we had a few games where we gave up a lot of unearned runs. Same with pitching, we issued a lot of walks,” Lady Warriors coach Harold Dorsey said.
Offensively, Dorsey said they have a good combination of speed and power.
Players to watch according to Dorsey: Whitney Broughton-Sr.-1B/LF, biggest attribute is swinging a good bat. Andrea Edmiston-3B/C, very good defensively and offensively, All-District last year. Allison Mallot-C/CF, cleanup hitter, good bat, excellent OF, covers a lot of ground, can make any play or any throw. Taylor Dotson-P, one of the primary pitchers. Maggie Dorsey-SS, another one of the primary pitchers. Jaden Toller-OF, led team in batting average last year, quick as a cat.
Goals: “We’re focusing on doing a little better than last year, we’d love to win the league and look to win district,” Dorsey said.
Eastern will be the heavy favorite to win the SHAC Conference in Division I.
Outlook: The Lady Dragons will return five seniors this year and hope to improve on not only their record, but their skills on the diamond as well.
“Each girl notably contributes to the team, on and off the field, with their many talents and character,” Lady Dragons coach Chelsea Lewis said. “We’re approaching the season with positive attitudes, good sportsmanship and a lot of heart.”
Players to watch according to Lewis: Kaylee Welch, primary catcher, but has been known to be a versatile and reliable player at any position throughout her softball career. Savannah Holbrook, centerfielder, known for her speed around the bases and in centerfield, Summer Grooms, third base, quick reaction to each play while always being down and ready. Cierra Roberts, first base and brings the power with the bat. Delphia Pitre, right field, hustles and has a good eye at the plate. Autumn Dozier, second base, always backing her teammates up play by play.
Goals: “We are a very young team this year so my goal is to develop fundamentally and grow as a team to be successful and have fun,” Lewis said.
Coach did not respond to emails.