With eight returning players, seven who were starters a year ago, the Madison-Plains softball team has high hopes entering the 2014 season.
The Golden Eagles have talent all around the field and up and down the lineup and coach Kevin Stockham likes the dedication and determination this year’s team appears to have.
“We seem to be very hungry and it has shown in our workouts,” Stockham said. “Despite the youth of the team (only three total juniors and seniors), we do return a lot of players who have played a lot of softball. Nine of our varsity players played ball in the offseason (summer/fall). As a group, they have spent vast hours in the weight room since last fall. Our overall team speed, power, and athleticism will be improved and the attitudes I have seen this preseason have been outstanding.”
The Golden Eagles were a respectable 14-11 last spring, but in order to take that next step, the team is going to need its best players to crank things up a notch.
That starts with sophomore P/1B Courtney Davis. She was an all league and all-district pick last year and posted an ERA below a run a game (.99). She will be counted on more this season as her innings pitched will surely increase.
“Her ERA was the fourth-lowest in Central Ohio last year,” the coach said.
Also back in the mix is sophomore 2B/P Tori Bevington, she too picked up all-league honors a year ago as a freshman.
Bevington will pair with returnee and fellow sophomore middle infielder Shelby Puckett to anchor the middle of the infield. Freshman third baseman Macy Long has earned her starting spot and junior returnee Maria Grabill figures to be at first base.
Senior Kaliegh Whitaker (OF/2B) will lead an outfield with sophomore speedsters Morgan Niese (OF) and Taylor Sollars (OF/IF). Freshman Amber Massie and sophomore Erin Carroll (OF/C) will push into the lineup as well. Senior Liza Watson (C) will handle the catching duties for the second year in a row.
The Golden Eagles figure to be championship contenders in the new Mid-State League Ohio Division, but the battle figures to be fierce with a number of top teams vying for the crown. Also the non-league schedule will include some familiar squads from the time the school spent in the South Central Ohio League.
“The schedule is challenging this year,” Stockham said. “Our first year in the Mid-State League will be rugged with any number of teams competing for the championship, including defending champion West Jefferson, Bexley and London.
“The non-league schedule will be include Division 3 powers Liberty Union, Bishop Ready, and Fairbanks, a trip to the Licking Valley Classic to play Berne Union and John Glenn, and former SCOL foes Miami Trace, Washington Court House and McClain.”
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 18 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.