Although Shawn Papp currently is preparing for the football season at Hilliard Darby High School, he still is excited about next spring when he will lead the softball program.
Papp, an assistant football coach at Darby since 2006, replaces Erin McClincy, who stepped down to become assistant athletics director.
"I've coached baseball, wrestling, track, football and softball over the years," said Papp, who is a history teacher at Darby and also has spent time at Licking Heights and DeSales. "I have a lot of experience coaching kids of all levels, but I'm really excited about this. In the past few years I've coached the junior varsity, eighth-graders and middle school program. I know these girls and I think we've got some very talented players to work with, both returning and those coming up in the next few years."
McClincy, who guided the Panthers the past five seasons and whose team had a 5-19 record this spring, said it was a difficult decision, but one that can still be rewarding.
"We do have things in place and I expect us to be real successful in the near future, but it is a good professional decision for me," she said. "I just absolutely love teaching and coaching and dealing with kids on a daily basis. I'm hoping I can maintain those relationships with the students and with the girls, though.
"My work will consist of scheduling and doing a lot of behind the scenes stuff, so I'm hoping to be involved with the students through things like Spirit Club. I'm making it a priority."
McClincy replaces Chris Ludban, who moved from the assistant's position to athletics director when Nick McIlwain left the school district after one year to become an assistant principal at Westerville Central.
"I have loved coaching and the girls have a special place in my heart, but I think the program will be in capable hands with Shawn," McClincy said.
"When I met with the girls, all of the upperclassmen said they're going to buy in and we're going to head in the right direction," Papp said. "I know we had five wins last season, but we've got a lot of young girls back ready to show their talent. I've seen them grow and I think they're ready. We have tremendous freshmen and eighth-graders coming who should lead this program in a few years."
The Panthers, who lost to Logan 3-2 in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 13, finished 4-10 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to place seventh behind Westerville Central (12-2), Hilliard Bradley (10-4), Dublin Jerome (9-5), Westerville North (8-6), Canal Winchester (8-6) and Westerville South (5-9) and ahead of Dublin Scioto (0-14).
Lost to graduation were Kerri Hay (designated player), Savannah Pizzurro (P/LF), Abby Schuster (C) and Jasmina Trapasso (2B). Schuster was honorable mention all-league.
Expected key returnees are seniors Lauren Buelow (CF) and Ally Evans (3B/SS) and junior Logan Cortelletti (P/SS).
Cortelletti was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. Buelow was second-team all-league and Evans was special mention all-league.
Also expected back are seniors Brittany Graessle (2B/SS), Grace Hambrock (utility), Addison Senter (1B/DH) and Amelia Young (OF) and junior Elizabeth Hoppe (utility).