Loaded with underclassmen going in to 2020, the Blanchester softball team lost valuable experience when the season was cancelled because of Covid-19.
“We were going to be a young team last year and the players returning this year missed out on the opportunity to gain another year of varsity experience,” 19-year BHS head coach Jamey Grogg said. “So, in that regard, we are ‘young’ again this year.”
The rosters consists of seniors Jasmine Collins and Noelani Tangonan; juniors Taylynn Barr, Maggie Caldwell, Emma Case, Madison Creager, Rianna Mueller, Samantha Naylor and Zoie Stanforth; sophomores Lydia Peters, Olivia Potts and Kyra Renick; and freshman Bailey Dawley.
Among the players from 2019 not returning, either 2019 or 2020 graduates, are Kassidy Abney, Marissa Jacobs, Kelsey Naylor, Elecia Patton, Savanna Shank, Madison Fields and Chloe Stewart.
Blanchester was 5-19 overall in 2019, 4-8 in the SBAAC National Division. Grogg is 228-185 in his BHS coaching career. He will be assisted by Tommy Lee and Matt Sexton with reserve head coach Makayla Shank and reserve assistant coach Dan Peters.
Creager was a second-team All-SBAAC pick in 2019 and leads six returning starters, including pitching prospects Stanforth, Mueller and Case. Newcomers to note, Grogg said, are Naylor, Barr, Potts, Peters and Dawley.
Grogg said he likes his team’s attitude and effort. “They come to practice every day focused and ready to work,” he said.
He said his team will need to play solid defense and execute to manufacture runs in order to contend for a National Division crown, won the past six seasons by Williamsburg.
After missing the 2020 season, Grogg said he felt awful for his players who weren’t able to finish their careers on the softball diamond.
”I think we will have a greater appreciation for the opportunity we will be given, knowing what it is like to have it taken away,” he concluded.