With most of her players expected to return, Hilliard Davidson High School softball coach Katie Speakman believes her team will be better next season.
The Wildcats finished 14-15 overall and went 6-8 in the OCC-Central Division to tie Central Crossing for fifth, behind co-champions Marys-ville (11-3) and Olentangy Liberty (11-3), Thomas Worthington (9-5) and Upper Arlington (8-6) and ahead of Dublin Coffman (5-9) and Westland (0-14).
Seeded 18th of 42 teams, Davidson beat 32nd-seeded Darby 4-2 in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 14 before losing to eighth-seeded Watterson 6-0 in the second round May 16.
The Wildcats, who were no-hit by Watterson pitcher Kayla Cook, lose three seniors in Michaela Cunningham (OF), Hannah DePriest (P) and Taylor Moore (P).
"We'll have a lot of returning players, but we're going to need to replace the leadership," Speakman said. "This senior class was positive and they were well-respected and we'll miss that.
"We will work a lot on pitching over the summer with our younger players. I'm excited about next year and I know the girls are, too."
Moore was 12-12 in the circle this season with a 3.60 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 145 innings. She also led the team with a .346 batting average, 24 RBI and 10 doubles and was named first-team all-league.
"Taylor came through in the clutch and was our best all-around player," Speakman said. "I know she and all of the girls wanted to win more games, but they were hard-working girls who were passionate about the game and I was glad and happy to be a part of it."
Among the expected returnees are juniors Charlee Clark (1B), Lizzy Doby (SS), Ally Doty (2B), Emily Shank (3B) and Lauren Strausbaugh (OF), sophomore Olivia Tholt (OF) and freshman Cassidy Rowe (C).
Clark (.268, 14 runs, 14 RBI, 4 doubles, 5 home runs) and Doby were second-team all-league, Doty (.330, 19 runs, 12 RBI, 10 stolen bases) was special mention all-league and Rowe (.278, 18 runs, 11 RBI) was honorable mention all-league.
"We (will) have the entire infield back and all of our outfield back, except for Cunningham," Speakman said. "We showed signs of greatness this season and had some big wins, but we were up and down. We expected more wins and we'll have high expectations again next year."
Jaguars looking to jell next season
Bradley finished 8-16 overall and 6-7 in the OCC-Cardinal, placing fifth behind Worthington Kilbourne (13-1), Westerville Central (11-3), Westerville South (10-4) and Westerville North (8-6) and ahead of Dublin Jerome (4-9), Darby (3-11) and Dublin Scioto (0-14).
The Jaguars, who had a league game against Jerome canceled after it was postponed April 24 and May 10, were seeded 30th and lost to 12th-seeded Olentangy 9-2 in the first round of the district tournament May 14.
"We had our ups and downs and never really put anything together," coach Kevin Moody said. "We had flashes of good play, but we made too many mistakes overall. The girls got frustrated and I think they all were trying too hard rather than playing the game. When they made mistakes, they took it like they personally let the team down rather than moving onto the next play."
Bradley loses two seniors in Christina Hammons (OF/3B) and Paige Wiley (OF).
Wiley batted .404 and made first-team all-league, and Hammons was a four-year starter.
Among those expected to return are juniors Alyssa Bobbitt (P), Abi Groseclose (C), Ana Locke (OF/P) and Lindsey Love (P/OF) and sophomores Morgan Daniels (P/designated player), Alex Day (2B) and Meredith Miller (SS).
Day batted .404 and was second-team all-league and Groseclose (.389) and Miller were special mention all-league.
"All the girls worked hard until the end, but we need a mindset change," Moody said. "They have to start believing in themselves because they've got the tools to be successful, but we were 0-3 against good teams to start the season and we never caught our breath.
"Another key is that we didn't jell for a while, but I think that will change this summer because eight of them are playing on the same summer team so they should come back next year feeling like a family from day one."
Panthers needed time to figure out lineup
Darby finished 5-17 overall and placed seventh in the OCC-Cardinal at 3-11.
The lineup for the Panthers, who lost to Davidson in the first round of the district tournament, underwent many changes over the course of the season.
"We spent the better part of the season mixing and matching lineups and we'll have a good feeling for what works next season when almost all of them return," coach Erin McClincy said. "We were making five or six errors a game and really cut those down near the end of the season."
The Panthers lose only one senior in third baseman Stephanie McCullough (8 RBI, 12 runs).
"We'll miss her not only in the lineup, but we'll miss her personality and positive attitude," McClincy said. "She was a role model for the younger girls, always worked hard and expected more out of herself. She got the younger girls to expect more of themselves."
Among the key lineup changes were moving sophomore Lauren Buelow from shortstop to center field, freshman Logan Cortelletti from second base to shortstop and sophomore Brittany Graessle from right field to second base.
"Buelow solidified our outfield and Cortelletti proved she could handle shortstop even as a freshman," McClincy said. "Another factor was that (junior pitcher) Savannah Pizzurro finally got healthy after a nagging injury and that increased her velocity."
Cortelletti, who led the team in batting average (.403) and runs (19), and junior catcher Abby Schuster, who tied for the team lead in RBI (12), were second-team all-league. Buelow, who hit .323 and had 12 RBI, was special mention all-league and Pizzurro, who batted .269 with 11 runs and 11 RBI, was honorable mention all-league. Other players expected to return include junior Kerri Hay (1B/designated player) and sophomores Aly Evans (OF) and Addison Senter (1B/designated player).