After blasting a state single-season record 18 homers in 2013 and driving in 63 runs, the third highest one-year total in Ohio prep softball history, opposing pitchers will obviously be pitching around New Riegel’s Taylor Kirian this season.
The flip side of that game plan is that the Blue Jackets have seven other starters back from a team that went 22-8 and reached the Division IV regional semifinals.
Winter continues to hang around like a stubborn contact hitter facing a 3-2 count. But some talented individuals and some promising teams could heat things up in a hurry this spring, especially in the Midland Athletic League where New Riegel, despite its depth and talent, went 9-2 in league play to finish third behind Fremont St. Joseph (11-0) and Mohawk (10-1) and just ahead of North Baltimore (8-3).
St. Joe also advanced to the regional tournament last year; Mohawk, which has won outright or shared eight MAL titles in the past 12 years, was a Sweet Sixteen qualifier the year before that; and North Baltimore lost an all-Oho standout in Ricci Emahiser (.512, 9 HR, 43 RBIs) but has a solid senior nucleus returning in players like Hanna Brian (.463), Jasmine Bretz (.402) and Haleigh Fleck (.394).
A first-team all-Ohio selection who will play ball for Akron, Kirian was also 20-8 with a 2.67 earned run average and 127 strikeouts as New Riegel’s ace pitcher. The Blue Jackets also return two first-team all-MAL standouts in junior catcher Taylor Arbogast (.394, 5 HR, 29 RBIs) and junior shortstop/pitcher Kara Scherger (.388, 6 HR, 28 RBIs).
Just surviving league play won’t be easy, though, with nine first-team and seven second-team all-league players back for MAL teams.
The 2014 season — weather permitting — is scheduled to kick off today and several area teams will be looking to get a strong start to what they hope will be a championship season.
Elmwood, after falling one game short of reaching the Division III regional, looks solid once again with junior shortstop Rebecca Harvey (.505, 3 HR, 37 RBI), and senior centerfielder Madison Arnold (.410, 30 RBIs) returning for veteran head coach Matt Hoiles (301-112) and the defending Northern Buckeye Conference champions.
All-conference selections Megan Johnson (.453, 20 stolen bases), Dani Heaster (.356, 26 RBIs) and Hannah Johnson (.395, 22 RBIs) return for Arlington coach Gregg Feller (161-67) as the Red Devils look for a three-peat in the Blanchard Valley Conference.
And Columbus Grove, runner-up in two leagues a year ago, will be looking to seven returning starters to possibly earn the Bulldogs championships in both the Northwest Conference and Putnam County League.
The following is a look at area softball teams. Information on Ottawa-Glandorf’s team was unavailable.
HEAD COACH: Ken Jochims (2nd year, 5-14).
2013 RECORD: 5-14 overall, 2-7 Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Ashley Windle, sr., C; Alexis Gonzaga, sr., OF; Katelyn Guagenti, sr., 3B/UT; Madison Parks, sr., OF; Alexis Amburgey, jr. P; Quinn High, jr., SS; Kaylee Spangler, jr., 1B; Tessa Couson, jr., 2B; Ashley Sumner , soph., 3B/P; Megan Simon, soph., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Mackenzie Willis, soph., C/1B/OF; Tori Wyss, jr., UT; Haley Wyss, fr., UT; Tarryn Fullom, fr., C/OF; Jil Wolber, fr., OF.
NOTABLE: Windle was a second-team all-NWC pick last season after hitting .396 with a team-high 13 RBIs. Amburgey was an honorable mention all-league selection.
HEAD COACH: David Spridgeon (1st year).
2013 RECORD: 9-13 overall, 4-5 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Courtney Cramer, sr.; Ashley Baird, sr.; Alisha Baird, sr.; Maddie Mock, jr.; Lizzie Coward, jr.; Erica Metcalfe, jr.; Megan Hill, soph.; Skylar Conley, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Abbie Dauterman, jr., 1B; Molly Glick, jr., OF; Brittney Nye, fr., OF; Haley Kieffer, fr., OF; Jocelyn Peters, fr., P; Sadie Hickie, jr., UT.
NOTABLE: With a .474 batting average a season ago, Courtney Cramer was an all-Blanchard Valley Conference performer and was named to the all-district second team. Fifteen of the 21 players on this year’s roster are seniors and juniors.
HEAD COACH: Gregg Feller (11th year, 161-67).
2013 RECORD: 20-4 overall, 9-0 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Dani Heaster, sr., CF; Hannah Johnson, jr., SS; Britnee Johnson, jr., P; Erin Helms, sr., OF; Megan Johnson, soph., 2B; Courtney Stoltz, jr., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Laura Myers, soph., 3B; Jona Affholder, soph., P/IF; Aaliyah Comstock, soph., IF; Shayna Helms, soph., IF; Allie Sheldon, soph., C; Sierra Nichols, fr., 1B; Alexis Risner, soph., IF.
NOTABLE: Megan Johnson returns after earning first-team BVC and second-team district honors. She batted .453 and stole 20 bases. Dani Heaster and Hannah Johnson each earned BVC honorable mention. Heaster batted .356 with 26 RBIs, while Hannah Johnson batted .395 with 22 RBIs.
HEAD COACH: Tony Rumer (2nd year, 8-16).
2013 RECORD: 8-16 overall, 3-6 Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Cheyenne Treen, sr., OF; Olivia Hunt, sr., OF; Lauren Parkins, jr., IF; Mackayla Wilson, jr., C/IF; Sami Fruchey, soph., P/IF; Taylor Monday, soph., P/IF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Maddie Willis, jr., IF; Sarah Combs, jr., OF; Olivia Sweary, jr., OF; Abby Bryer, jr., OF; Abbie Parkins, fr., C/IF.
NOTABLE: The younger Pirates will have to grow up quickly as just two seniors are on the roster. Rumer thinks pitching and defense will be team strengths this season.
HEAD COACH: Teresa Jacoby (1st year).
2013 RECORD: 13-12 overall, 4-7 Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Chelsea Schlack, jr., 3B; Taylor Fletcher, sr., OF; Haley Hoepf, sr., 2B/OF; Makenzie Wentling, sr., C/OF; Abby Hall, jr., 1B/2B; Hannah Draper, sr., SS; Jordan Strahm, jr., OF; Ali Rymer, sr., P/1B; Sydney Wentling, soph., P/2B.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kayla Greider, soph., C/OF; Raven Moloney, jr., OF; Miranda Conley, sr., P/OF; Dani Bardinelli-Clark, fr., P/IF; Presley Elchert, sr., C; Taehlor Niederkohr, fr., P/IF; Cheyanna Moloney, sr., OF.
NOTABLE: The Blue Devils have plenty of experience with nine returning letterwinners. Makenzie Wentling, Hannah Draper and Ali Rymer have each won three letters.
HEAD COACH: Travis Gallmeier (1st year).
2013 RECORD: 18-7 overall, 5-1 Putnam County League, 6-3 Nortwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Katie Roose, sr., C; Deanna Kleman, sr., CF; Micah Stechschulte, sr., LF; Kara Birkemeier, sr., 1B; Hope Schroeder, jr., 3B/P; Brianna Glass, jr., 2B; Monica Delgado, jr., DH/3B; Kyrah Yinger, soph., SS; Brooke Hoffman, soph., PR.
TOP PROSPECTS: Mackenzie Wurth, soph; Marybeth Nemire, soph.; Mackenzie Bame, soph.; Sammi Rosengarten, soph.; Grace Schroeder, fr.; Jenny Ellerbrock, fr.
NOTABLE: The Bulldogs return seven starters from last year’s team. Travis Gallmeier takes over as coach, and he expects Columbus Grove to be competitive in the PCL and NWC after finishing runner up in each last year.
HEAD COACH: Jordan Streicher (10th year, 95-91).
2013 RECORD: 16-6 overall, 6-0 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Caliah Rickard, sr., 3B/C; Kiana Warnement, sr., CF; Sloane Zachrich, sr., 1B; Erica Fitzwater, sr., RF; McKenna Scott, jr., SS/P; Emma Recker, jr., P; Alex Quigley, soph., 3B.
TOP PROSPECTS: Jasmin Moats, jr., 1B; Lexi Doster, soph., IF/OF; Amelia Weller, soph., IF/OF; Kayla Troyer, soph., IF; Emily Logan, soph., C; Liv Homier, fr., UT.
NOTABLE: Quigley earned first-team PCL honors as a freshman last season. Scott was second-team PCL last season after earning first-team honors in 2012. Streicher said the Pirates should be strong defensively, and if Continental can find consistent pitching, it has a chance to win its seventh-straight PCL title.
HEAD COACH: Bryan Miller (1st year).
2013 RECORD: 2-19 overall, 1-8 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Dana Miller, sr., 1B/2B/P; Jordan Hector, sr., 3B; Amie Ricksecker, jr., C; Taylor Marshall, jr., P/CF; Kathryn Henry, jr., P/3B; Mariah Burkholder, jr., SS/2B/CF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Shiann Ludwig, jr., OF; Ivy Benroth, soph., OF; Taylor Morris, OF. soph., Bre Wellington, soph., 2B/SS.
NOTABLE: Six letterwinners return for the Hornets this season, including Miller and Ricksecker who will each enter their third year on the varsity.
HEAD COACH: Matt Hoiles (15th year, 301-112).
2013 RECORD: 22-7 overall, 11-3 Northern Buckeye Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Madison Arnold, sr., CF; Chelsie Schmitz, sr., C; Brandie Vargas, sr., LF; Rebecca Harvey, jr., SS; Miranda Benschoter, jr., P; Olivia Myers, jr., 2B; Kristi Reiser, jr., RF; Lindsay George, soph., 3B.
TOP PROSPECTS: Darci Dowdy, sr., UT; Sarah Williams, jr., 2B; Jasmine Marsh, jr., P/OF; Molly Robinson, jr., UT; Paige Marsh, soph., P/UT; Jayla Kenard, fr., IF/OF.
NOTABLE: Harvey hit .505 with 13 doubles, three triples, three homers and 37 RBIs for the NBC champs last season. Arnold knocked in 30 runs and batted .410 for the Royals.
HEAD COACH: Clayton Moore (2nd year, 2-25).
2013 RECORD: 2-25 overall, 1-13 Northern Buckeye Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Alex Hersch, sr., P/1B; Christina Cleveland, sr., 1B/OF; Kendra Lamelie, sr., OF/1F; Alexus Smith, jr., C/OF; Cyenna Lindsey, jr., OF; Erica Moore, jr., UT; Jada Hampton, jr., IF.O; Kaitlyn Gonyer, jr., UT.
TOP PROSPECTS: Mette Pedersen, sr., 2B/OF; Breanna Biles, jr., IF; Miranda Blackburn, soph., 2B/OF; Misty Lovejoy, soph., IF; Jayden McCumber, soph., IF; Amani Seaburn, fr., IF; Ashlea Gonzalez, fr., P/UT; Jessica Cobb, fr., OF; Kirra Gehr, fr., 2B/OF; Lexi Fretz, fr., IF/OF; Raimi Bernal, fr., UT; Shelby Lamb, jr., OF.
NOTABLE: Erica Moore is the top returnee for an experienced Fostoria ballclub. She was an honorable mention all-NBC selection for the Redmen last season.
Fostoria St. Wendelin
HEAD COACH: Theresa Webb (20th year, 240-209).
2013 RECORD: 8-17 overall, 2-9 Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Edy Mowrey, sr. 3B/1B; Maddie Statham, sr., C/OF; Sammie Digsby. jr., CF; Meghan Reiter, jr., P/3B; Mikayla Gilliland, soph., SS; Krystal Krout, soph., LF; Allie Rutter, soph., 1B/P .
TOP PROSPECTS: Cortney Babb, fr., C/OF; Becky Berton, jr., OF; Jessica Holman, fr., INF/OF; Anna Mischkulnig, soph., OF; Raegan Preble, fr., INF/OF; Cailin Reineck, fr., 2B; Mitcima Sukaphiboon, jr.; OF; Hunter Weidner, soph., 1B/OF.
NOTABLE: Reiter (6-10, 4.47 ERA) and Rutter (2-6, 4.86) were St. Wendelin’s top two pitchers. Reiter also batted .412 in earning second-team all-Midland Athletic League and District 6 recognition. Mowrey (.321), Gilliland (.304) and Rutter (.300) also hit .300 or better.
HEAD COACH: Jeff Hunt (4th year, 41-28).
2013 RECORD: 16-10 overall, 5-4 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Lea Rowe, sr., C; Addy Bame, jr., P/SS; Molly Wilson, sr., OF/IF; Kylee Hooker, sr., OF; Hannah Fisher, sr., OF; Bethany Fisher, sr., OF/IF; Taylir Schiewe, sr., IF; Shelby Schlatter, jr., C/IF; Brooklyn Watts, jr., IF/OF; Brianna Campbell, jr., OF; Micheala Curtis, soph., IF/OF/P.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kamryn Dye, fr., IF.
NOTABLE: Rowe earned honorable mention BVC and district honors by batting .443 and driving in 24 RBIs. Bame also earned honorable mention BVC honors with a 2.92 ERA and 140 strikeouts. Overall, Hardin Northern has 11 returning letterwinners.
HEAD COACH: Danielle Reinhart (1st year).
2013 RECORD: 11-17 overall, 6-5 Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kassie Welly, sr., CF; Kelsey Coppus, sr., P; Makayla Wilson, soph., 3B; Abby Park, jr., 1B/RF; Shelbi Sauber, jr., C.
TOP PROSPECTS: Emma Kirby, fr., 1B/OF; Michelle Welly, fr., C/SS; Sierra Beers, soph.; Lileigh Bower, soph.; Gabby Gregg, fr.; Raven Spencer, fr.; Keely Hoover, fr.; Alaina Gosche, fr.
NOTABLE: The Chieftains return just five letterwinners from last season and will expect seniors Kassie Welly and Kelsey Coppus, and juniors Abby Park and Shelbi Sauber to lead a young group of players.
HEAD COACH: Kelly Schnipke (1st year).
2013 RECORD: 7-11 overall, 2-2 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Paige Wurth, sr., OF; Katelyn Kortokrax, sr., 2B/OF; Whitney Smith, sr., 3B; Nicole Recker, jr., 2B/OF; Mariah Doepker, jr., UT; Makenna Vorst, jr., SS/2B; Alexis Vorst, jr., 3B; Laine Laudick, soph., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kiersten Recker, sr., UT; Liza Medvedeva, sr., OF; Olivia Schmenk, jr., OF; Melissa Jorrey, jr., 1B/UT; Casey Wehri, jr., OF; Sarah Hovest, soph., UT; Sam Nagy, soph., P; Paige Roller, soph., 1B/OF; Erica Edwards, fr., UT; Carlee Miller, fr., C; Hannah Kahle, fr., OF; Brooke Kimball, fr., 1B/C; Dana Kneuve, fr., P/1B/3B.
NOTABLE: The Wildcats lost seven letterwinners from last year’s team. They have a new coach in Kelly Schnipke and eight returning letterwinners on a 21-player roster.
HEAD COACH: Dennis Warnecke (5th year).
2013 RECORD: 2-16 overall, 0-9 Blanchard Valley Conference, 1-6 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Haley Gerten, sr., SS/C; Maddie Steffan, sr., LF; Alexis Escamilla, jr., C/2B; Chloe Kaufman, jr., SS/CF; Emily Ellerbrock, jr., 3B; Paige Sickmiller, jr., CF/1B; Jada Lopez, soph., P/ 2B; Michaella Gerdeman, soph., C/1B.
TOP PROSPECTS: Samantha Brooks, fr., SS/P; Rebecca Snyder, jr., RF; Raegan Cupp, fr., CF/ 1B; Mindy Ellerbrock, fr., 2B.
NOTABLE: Leipsic returns eight letterwinners from last year’s team, but sophomore catcher Michaella Gerdeman is out for the season with a knee injury. Maddie Steffan hit .436 with eight doubles, six stolen bases and 13 RBIs to earn first-team PCL and BVC honors. Haley Gerten was also second-team PCL.
HEAD COACH: Travis Simons (1st year).
2013 RECORD: 6-17 overall, 3-6 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Shayne Rodesky, sr., C; Mica Terrian, sr., SS; Maddy Pape, jr., P; Katie Roberts, jr., P/IF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Alexis Shoffstall, jr.; Katie Devore, jr.; Julia Grubinski, soph.; Jordan Shelly, soph.; Brea Minnich, fr.
NOTABLE: After finishing 6-17 a year ago. Katie Roberts and Maddy Pape both will see time in the pitching circle. The Eagles will be relyig on the senior leadership of shortstop Mica Terrain.
HEAD COACH: Carl Wooten (2nd year, 19-7).
2013 RECORD: 19-7 overall, 6-3 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Brenna Dee, sr., SS/C; Bridgette Swartz, sr., OF; Alexis Miller, jr., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Mariah Ward, soph., 1B; Haley Buck, jr., 2B; Jenna Lanning, soph., 3B; Kirsten Long, soph., OF; Gabby Zamora, fr., OF; Brooke Metzger, soph., OF; Carrigan Gomez, soph., P.
NOTABLE: The Panthers lost a ton of talent from last year’s team Wooten calls his best defensive team ever. Even with just three returning letterwinners, he thinks McComb could still finish .500 or better this season.
HEAD COACH: Jim Leis (3rd year, 28-24).
2013 RECORD: 4-12 overall, 2-4 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Elizabeth Schimmoeller, sr., P/IF; Jessica vennekotter, sr., 1B; Janke VanWezel, sr., 3B/IF; Morgan Inkrott, sr., 2B/OF; Alissa Schnipke, jr., SS; Erika Meyer, jr., IF/OF; Kylee Ricker, jr., P/2B; Cassilyn Niese, soph., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Emily Altman, soph., IF/OF; Amanda Heuerman, fr., IF/OF; Taylor Roth, fr., P/IF/OF; Makenna Ricker, fr., C/IFl; Megan Warnimont, fr., P/IF/OF; Tiffany Welty, fr., C/IF/OF.
NOTABLE: There will be a much more experienced group on the diamond for the Wildcats, although, they will be young as there are just four seniors on the roster.
HEAD COACH: Jenny Weinandy.
2013 RECORD: 23-5 overall, 9-1 Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Clara Adelsperger, sr., 2B; Julie Adelsperger, sr., P/1B; Kasey Adelsperger, sr., P/1B; Taylor McClain, sr., C; Brooke Weinandy, sr., OF; Charlotte Moes, sr., OF; Allison Price, jr., UT; MacKenzie Sowers, jr., OF; Aubry Ward, jr., OF; Chelsea Clinger, jr., IF; Cambria Kohlenberg, soph., OF; Hannah Kieffer, soph., 3B; Ally Weinandy, soph., SS; Allison Osborne, soph., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.
NOTABLE: Mohawk looks locked and loaded to compete for the final MAL title. Julie Adelsperger was 20-5 with a 1.59 ERA in the pitcher’s circle last season. Cambria Kohlenberg is looking to build off a big freshman season in which she hit .505.
HEAD COACH: Jamie Lininger (11th year, 183-85).
2013 RECORD: 22-8 overall, 9-2 Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Taylor Kirian, sr., P/OF; Morgan Noftz, sr., OF/SS; Lauren Zoeller, sr., OF/DP; Taylor Arbogast, jr., C; Kara Scherger, jr., SS/P; Brittany Gillig, sr., 3B; Hailey Theis, jr., 1B; Leah Bouillon, soph., OF/2B.
TOP PROSPECTS: Ruthann Schreiner, sr., DP/OF/2B; Lauren Ladd, sr., 1B; Brittany Baker, jr.; Emily Hohman, fr., 2B; Gidge Eichert, fr., C/OF; Haley Hoepf, fr., 1B/OF; Kady Eichert, fr., OF/1B.
NOTABLE: The Blue Jackets are flat-out loaded with eight starters back from last year’s regional qualifying team. University of Akron recruit Kirian, a first-team all-Ohio selection, set a state record last year with 18 home runs, batted .600 and drove in 63 runs. She also went 20-8 in the circle with a 2.67 ERA and 127 strikeouts. Arbogast (.394, 5 HR, 29 RBIs) and Scherger (.388, 6 HR, 28 RBIs) were also first-team all-MAL picks.
HEAD COACH: Frankie Hernandez (7th year, 108-53).
2013 RECORD: 15-10 overall, 8-3 Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Hanna Brian, sr., OF; Jasmine Bretz, sr., IF; Haleigh Fleck, sr., IF; Morgan Baltz, jr., OF; Rachel Peters, jr., IF; Maddie Ray, jr., UT; Makayla Rein, jr., IF; Cheyenne Hernandez, soph., P/IF; Kelcie Bean, soph., P/IF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Chelsea Stewart, sr., OF; Haylee Schaffner, sr., OF; Morgan Rose, soph., IF; Bailey Boyer, fr., C; Makayla Knight, fr., INF.
NOTABLE: Hernandez will be counting on a solid group of senior veterans headed by Brian, who batted .463, Bretz (.402) and Fleck (.394). Stewart, who missed the 2013 season with a knee injury, will also help offset the offensive loss of Ricci Emahiser (.512, 9 HR, 43 RBI) and Megan Wright (.446).
HEAD COACH: Joe Modica (21st year, 305-203).
2013 RECORD: 2-12 overall, 0-5 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Stephanie Horstman, sr.; Nikki Burgei, sr.; Robyn Turnwald, jr.; Kara Schimmoeller, sr.; Haley Landwehr, sr.; Morgan Beining, jr.; Courtney VonSossan, jr.; Ali Eickholt, sr.; Emma Eickholt, sr.; Madelyn Herman, soph.; Jenny Burgei, soph.; Beth Burgei, soph.; Alena Horstman, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kendra Eickholt sr.; Beth Burgei, soph.; Carli Kortokrax, soph.; Mazzie Brinkman, fr.; Taylor Boecker, fr.
NOTABLE: Ottoville has 13 letterwinners back this season. Hitting should be improved for the Big Green this season but pitching will be a concern, according to Modica.
HEAD COACH: Kurt Mullins (8th year, 24-101).
2013 RECORD: 5-14 overall, 2-7 Blanchard Valley Conference, 3-3 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Megan Maag, sr., P; Hunter Hermiller, sr., P/IF; Jenna Sigler, sr., C; Kayla Gibson, sr., IF; Ashley Alt, sr., IF/OF; Vivian Nofziger, sr., IF/OF; Shana Hovest, soph., IF; Heidi Cherry, soph., OF; Jordan Morns, soph., OF; Alysee Augsburger, jr., IF; Paige Guthrie, jr., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Olivia Maag, sr., IF/OF; Anna Abelovska, sr., OF; Brittany Reigle, fr., P/OF; Abbigale Stevens, fr., C/OF; Kristen Mullins, fr., IF/OF; Toria Hovest, fr., IF; Paiton Dulaney, fr., IF.
NOTABLE: First-team all-BVC and PCL selection Megan Maag headlines six senior returning letterwinners and 11 overall for the Rockets. Maag hit .423 with 12 RBIs, while Kayla Gibson batted .326 and stole 18 bases.
HEAD COACH: Mike Meyer (8th year, 100-46).
2013 RECORD: 15-9, 5-3 Northwest Ohio Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kristin Bostelman, sr., C/SS; Rachel Nye, sr., IF; Alexandria Crouse, sr., IF; Madeline Hogrefe, sr., OF; Katie Kurtz, sr., P/OF; Alexis Miller, soph., IF; Alison Imbrock, soph., P/IF; Deanna Maas, jr., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Natalie Harder, IF/C/P; Deanna Maas, UT.
NOTABLE: The Patriots have eight returning letterwinners from last year’s team. Crouse batted .397 and Bostelman hit .393 with two home runs and 36 RBIs.
HEAD COACH: Luke Swavel (5th year, 19-72).
2013 RECORD: 5-19, 0-13 North Central Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Bre Parish, sr., SS; Jordyn Wright, sr., P/IF; Shelby McKamey, jr., CF/1B; Julia Naus, jr., C; Taylor Farmer, soph., P/IF; Aricka Hill, soph., IF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Janessa Taylor, fr., IF; Sydney Holderman, fr., IF/OF; Hannah Morris, fr., IF/OF; Victoria Penwell, soph. DH.
NOTABLE: Taylor Farmer earned second-team NCC and district honorable mention, batting .463 with two home runs, 19 RBIs and 19 runs scored. She also pitched 1101/3 innings, had a 4.31 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 23 games.
HEAD COACH: David Young (4th year, 58-26).
2013 RECORD: 13-11 overall, 6-6 North Central Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Katie Taylor, jr., 2B; Kelsi Knapp, sr., OF; Justeen Searfoss, sr., C, Maranda Stansbery, sr., OF, Kalene Johnson, jr., 1B; Kyla Cusac, soph., P; Abby Young, jr., UT; Jaya Smalley, soph., UT.
TOP PROSPECTS: Adrianna Frey, jr., UT; Allison Riedlinger, jr., UT; Sara Gier, fr., P/IF; Maddy Stansbery, fr., IF; Madi Vince, fr., OF.
NOTABLE: With eight seniors and juniors on this year’s 13-player roster, upper-class leadership and experience should not be a problem this year for Upper Sandusky. Five of those players, led by Miranda Stansbery (.416 BA) hit .300 or better a year ago, and four of them hit .333 or better.
HEAD COACH: Stacy Sharp (9th year, 77-96).
2013 RECORD: 12-10 overall, 8-1 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Paige Sudlow, sr., 1B; Robyn Flick, sr., OF; Jenna Gallello, sr., OF; Nichole Miller, jr., P/IF/OF; Erin Neall, jr., C; Kailey Leal, jr., 2B; Olivia Sattler, soph., 3B.
TOP PROSPECTS: Abbey Phillips, jr., OF; Morgan Drake, soph., OF; Samantha Hagans, soph., OF; Kila Fultz, fr., P/IF/OF; Brylie Rampe, fr., IF.
NOTABLE: Miller, a first team all-BVC selection last year, has established herself as one of Northwestern Ohio’s elite players. She batted .526 with a school-record 41 hits in 2013, and went 12-8 in the circle with 141 strikeouts. She enters the season 27 hits and 19 steals shy of Van Buren’s career records.
HEAD COACH: Ray Dickerhoof (3rd year, 324-71 career record).
2013 RECORD: 15-10 overall, 6-3 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Courtney Keeney, sr., 1B; Haley Bonham, jr., CF; Kate Clymer, jr., SS/C; Chelsi Hartman, jr., RF; Sami Hausserman, soph., 3B/P.
TOP PROSPECTS: Olivia Kliesch, fr., P; Grace Wagner, fr., SS/C; Chelsea Summit, soph., OF.
NOTABLE: Dickerhoof will have a bit younger group after Vanlue graduated a strong senior class. Keeney and Jennifer Norton are the lone seniors. With 20 players on the roster, nearly half the school’s female enrollement is out for the sport, including 14 juniors and sophomores.