Speedy Pioneers ready to play

By Chris Miles

March 29, 2014

There probably aren’t too many people as bummed about the late arriving spring weather as Jonathan Alder softball coach Dave McGrew.

The coach is really looking forward to getting his talented squad on the field against good competition and seeing just how well it does when the games actually count.

“We’ve got nothing but good girls,” McGrew said. “They’re coachable, athletic, fun to be around and they can play. It’s a good blend of kids. Can you tell I really like this team?”

Alder has a strong collection of veterans and talented youngsters on the roster and not only does the team have a chance to contend for the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, McGrew thinks the Pioneers are talented enough to be in the discussion at the end of the year when talk of district championships come up.

“We’re going to be able to play defense, hit the ball and we’ve got all types of speed,” the coach said. “Last year we got to the district for the first time. This year I know our division is loaded. Licking Valley returns all nine starters, Granville made it to the final four and has eight starters back and Lakewood will be very good. But I like what we have going on.”

McGrew will look to his contingent of older players to set the tone this year, including senior OF Brooke Foster, senior OF Ashley Day and senior 3B Katie Lapp. All three have played together on the varsity for a few years and have gained the trust of their coach.

“Those three have been leaders for us,” McGrew said. “They’re seniors and they are doing a good job of bringing along our younger kids.”

Perhaps the biggest question mark with the Pioneers comes inside the pitching circle. The coach will hand the ball to sophomore Mady Watson and hope that the youngster has what it takes. She threw significant innings a year ago, but her role will truly expand this year. Junior Andi Blankenship will also see time inside the circle.

Alder will once again rely on one of its most valuable assets — speed. The team has a whole host of swift-footed runners from both sides of the plate.

“This team stole 88 bases last year and there’s more speed on this team,” McGrew said. “We play defense, we can hit and we can run.”

Other key returnees include sophomore IF Tori Walker, junior IF/OF Sam Headings, sophomore IF Taylor Gaerke and sophomore C Morgan Foster.

Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 18 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.