Coming off a frustrating season, the Hilliard Bradley High School softball team is hoping to put all of its pieces together this year.
The Jaguars lost only two players to graduation after finishing 8-16 overall and 6-7 in the OCC-Cardinal Division last season.
"We lacked consistency," said coach Kevin Moody, who is in his fifth season with the Jaguars and 29th overall as a coach in Hilliard City Schools. "We had our ups and downs and never really put anything together. 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 to not make mistakes."
The Jaguars, who open Friday, April 4, at New Albany and begin OCC-Cardinal play Monday, April 7, at home against Dublin Jerome, return six starters in the field in seniors Abi Groseclose (3B), Anna Locke (OF) and Lindsey Mummert (OF) and juniors Alex Day (2B), Meredith Miller (SS) and Ashley Rondy (1B).
Also back are three pitchers in seniors Alyssa Bobbitt and Lindsey Love and junior Morgan Daniels.
Last season, Day was named second-team all-league, Groseclose and Miller were special mention all-league and Daniels was honorable mention all-league.
Freshman Jordan Pallay is expected to start at catcher.
Others who could see time in the outfield include junior Lexie Kane and sophomore Lauren Lancaster.
"We have great potential in all areas -- hitting, pitching, defense and leadership," Moody said. "We look forward to the start of the season to see how things develop."
Lost to graduation were Christina Hammons (OF/3B) and Paige Wiley (OF). Wiley batted .404 and was first-team all-league last season, and Hammons was a four-year starter.
'Cats have experience, focusing on confidence
Katie Speakman is excited about her second season as Davidson coach.
The Wildcats open Thursday, April 3, at home against Westerville Central and begin OCC-Central play Monday, April 7, at home against Dublin Coffman.
Last season, Davidson finished 14-15 overall and went 6-8 in the OCC-Central to tie Central Crossing for fifth behind co-champions Olentangy Liberty and Marysville (both 11-3).
"We have seven to nine starters back, depending on what game it was during last season," Speakman said. "We've got six seniors and all of them will play Division II or Division III college softball. They love the game and it shows. It's an outstanding accomplishment and says a lot about their commitment to the sport."
The senior class consists of Alex Ashley (C), Charlee Clark (1B), Lizzy Doby (SS), Ally Doty (2B), Emily Shank (3B) and Lauren Strausbaugh (OF).
The other returnees who earned starts last season are juniors Jenna Higgins (OF) and Olivia Tholt (OF) and sophomore Cassidy Rowe (C).
Also on the roster are juniors Lizzie O'Grady (P) and Michaela Stoltzfus (OF) and freshman Erica Buchanan (P).
"We have only two new varsity players this season and both are pitchers -- Lizzy O'Grady and Erica Buchanan," Speakman said. "They will share time, but I'm not sure at this point how we will rotate them."
Last season, 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.
Experienced Panthers seeking consistency
Darby returns a wealth of experience after finishing 5-17 overall and 3-11 in the OCC-Cardinal last season, as fifth-year coach Erin McClincy welcomes back nine players who earned starts a year ago.
The Panthers open Thursday, April 3, at home against Pickerington North and begin league play Monday, April 7, at home against Westerville North.
"With a great deal of returnees, our team chemistry is high," McClincy said. "The girls trust each other at their positions. They know they will be where they need to be when they need to be there. Ten of the 12 girls on the roster are letterwinners."
The returning starters are seniors Kerri Hay (1B/DH), Savannah Pizzurro (P/OF/1B) and Abby Schuster (C/SS), juniors Lauren Buelow (CF), Ally Evans (3B/OF), Brittany Graessle (2B/SS/OF), Addison Senter (1B/DH) and Amelia Young (OF) and sophomore Logan Cortelletti (SS/P).
Junior Grace Hambrock (utility) also is a returning letterwinner, with sophomore Elizabeth Hoppe (utility) rounding out the roster.
Cortelletti and Schuster were second-team all-league, Buelow was special mention all-league and Pizzurro was honorable mention all-league.
Cortelletti led the Panthers in batting average (.403) and runs (19). Buelow, who batted .323, and Schuster and Buelow tied for the team lead in RBI (12). Pizzurro hit .269 with 11 runs and 11 RBI.
"Savannah Pizzurro and Logan Cortelletti will share time (in the circle)," McClincy said. "Savannah will start for us. I think both will also be among our offensive leaders, along with Lauren Buelow."