Matt Doyle will have big shoes to fill as the first-year head coach of the Clinton-Massie softball program.
Anthony Lauer is no longer the head coach after seven ultra-successful seasons with a 157-30 record. The past four years has produced 99 wins and three berths in the Div. II regional tournament.
Doyle is not backing down from the program’s previous accomplishments.
“My expectations are a strong run at the league championship and hopefully another deep run into the playoffs,” he said.
Top returning players are Victoria Sivert, Lindsey Carter, Kendall Anderson, Hannah Doss, Alyssa Hickey, Natalie Lay and Kayla Drake.
Sivert hit .500 with seven homers for Massie while Carter hit .496 and was 8-1 as a pitching with 100 strikeouts in 55 innings. She earned All-Ohio honors in 2018. She struck out 19 in a game last season.
Massie was 27-5 last season and ended its season with a 5-4 loss in the Region 8 championship game.
The Lady Falcons, however, were not SBAAC American Division champions, finishing three games behind unbeaten Western Brown.
Gone from that team are top players Taylor Florea and Hailey Clayborn.
“I like the team’s energy and excitement for the upcoming season,” Doyle said. “We need to improve on some of the little things on defense and focus on good at-bats at the plate. We can contend for the SBAAC title with good pitching, solid fundamentals and timely hitting.”
Doyle said the Falcons, along with Western Brown and Wilmington, are league favorites.
Wilmington softball coach Brian Spurlock is excited about the 2020 season.
“We expect to challenge for the league title and to have a deep tournament run this year,” he said.
Spurlock, in his second season as head coach, will be assisted by Josh Bickett and Lacy Myers at the varsity level and Jimmy Cramton at the junior varsity level.
First-team All-SBAAC players Olivia Veidt, Harlie Bickett, Jena Rhoads and Emily Self lead the list of returning players.
Also returning to the Lady Hurricane squad Kendra McKenna, Sophie Blessing, Emily Spendlove, Logan Osborne, Grace Brown and Kaitlyn Partin.
“This is a group of hardworking players,” he said. “They work on improving during the season and the off-season, both on and off the field. All five seniors are headed to college.”
Spurlock likes the Lady Hurricane’s experience and versatility.
“We have several players who can play multiple positions,” he said. “We are very strong in several key positions.”
Newcomers who could contribute, Spurlock said, include Toria Willis, Madison Hisco and Kaylie Taylor.
Western Brown was unbeaten in the American Division last season, leaving WHS and Clinton-Massie tied for second at 7-3.
Spurlock believes the Lady ‘Cane can challenge Western Brown ‘if we avoid further injuries. We have already lost a returning starter for the year due to injury.”
Spurlock said the Broncos are favorites “until a team steps up and beats them, they are the favorites to win it again.”
Softball coach Jamey Grogg views his team’s success in the SBAAC National Division in simple terms.
He believes his Ladycats will have a successful campaign if “we play fundamentally sound softball on a consistent basis.”
Grogg, in his 18th season as the BHS head coach, is 228-185. He coached BHS to Clinton County’s only softball state semifinal appearance.
He will be assisted by Tom Lee and Matt Sexton with the varsity team and Makayla Shank and Dan Peters on the reserve team.
But Blanchester is coming off a 5-19 season in 2019, an up and down year when consistency was less than desired.
However Blanchester has shown a good work ethic, positive attitude and good team chemistry, Grogg said, to start the 2020 practice season.
Returning for BHS are starters Zoie Stanforth, Rianna Mueller, Madison Creager, Maggie Caldwell and Noelani Tangonan.Meuller and Stanforth were the primary pitchers for Blanchester in 2019.
Kelsey Naylor also returns from last year and is one of just two seniors (Madison Fields is the other) on the Blan roster.
Grogg said his squad must improve in all areas, but points to offensive execution as the main focus to get back to near the top of the always-tough SBAAC National Division.
Grogg wants his BHS squad to “always give their best effort and maintain positive attitudes throughout the entire season. If we do those two things then I think we will be one of the top teams in our league and will be able to have a lot of success in the tournament.”
Long-time East Clinton volleyball coach Sarah Sodini is in her first season as the softball coach in Lees Creek.
East Clinton finished just sixth in the SBAAC National Divison in Matthew Zimmerman’s last season as head coach then the Lady Astros won the sectional title.
So hopes are high as Sodini, who’ll be assisted by Katie Rupp and Nakkea Mulkey, takes over.
“Katie is a great addition to the coaching staff,” Sodini said. “She played softball at Muskingum University. We’re excited for the knowledge and skills she brings to the program.”
Rupp is the school’s psychologist, Sodini said.
Returning players are Rhylee Luttrell, Jericka Boggs, Alexis Rolfe, Lydia Kessler and Josie Runk.
Gone from last season are Taylor Boeckmann, Kate Durbin and Mackenzie Campbell, all of whom graduated in 2019.
“I love our attitude,” Sodini said. “We’re positive and we’re having a lot of fun. We also have some really good offensive players.”
Sodini said the team’s pitching and infield play must improve to compete for the league championship. As Sodini said, “We get our pitching down and keep our heads up” EC can contend.
”This team is going through a lot of changes,” Sodini said. “They had a good year last year with winning sectionals, they’ve lost some starters and their knowledgeable, respected long-time coach. We are very young. We are learning and growing together.”