The sting of losing yet another Division III Central District championship game has subsided enough for the West Jefferson softball team to look back at its 2014 season with pride.
Yes the Roughriders (19-6) came up just short of their intended district championship goal or the second straight season, but considering that nearly every key contributor is scheduled back next season is reason to be excited about future of the program.
Coach Jim Stevens, who was named Central District D-III Coach of the Year, is already counting the days until his team can play together again.
“I am really looking forward to next year, we have everyone coming back,” Stevens said. “We had a great season this year and will work in the off-season to fine tune some things that we need to work on and come back next year even stronger.”
Every starting position player is expected to return and a number of them picked up postseason honors this spring.
Junior shortstop Madison Gatley, was named second-team All-Ohio this season after transferring in from Bishop Ready. She was also a first-team all-district and first-team All-Mid-State League Ohio Division pick as well.
Roughriders’ emotional leader and standout catcher Taylor Bowman was also selected first-team All-Central District as well as all-league. The junior was once again the rock behind the plate for a West Jefferson team that won the MSL Ohio and received the No. 2 seed in the district tournament.
Outfielder Taylor Kauser (second-team) and pitcher Annie Haenszel (honorable mention), both juniors, also picked up all-district recognition. Haenszel was also named the MSL Player of the Year after assuming the pitching duties this season, she and Kauser were named on the second-team all-league squad.
Sophomore first baseman Emily Stevenson, one of the top power hitters in the area, was a first team All-MSL pick along with Gatley, Bowman and Haenszel. Josie Hume a reliable bat in the lineup and a steady defender at third base and solid outfielder Kennedy Campbell were both pegged for the second-team all-league team.
Leanna Henry, the lone senior on the roster was selected honorable mention All-MSL.
“All of these girls deserve the honors that they were nominated for by the coaches,” Stevens said. “They prove themselves on the field with the way they play the game and it does not go unnoticed by the opposing coaches who vote for them.
“When you are competing for these honors against players from 21 other schools and walk away with these kind of honors it just goes to show you the kind of respect that these girls have earned with the way they play the game. I know as a coach it is a true honor to be able to coach a team with so much talent.”
West Jefferson will be looked at as the favorites to win the league next season and will again be one of the best teams in the Central District if not the state.
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 18 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.