Lauren Buelow recognizes the similarities between her senior season with the Hilliard Darby High School softball team and what's on the horizon entering her final year at Wittenberg University.
"I've been here before, getting a new coach going into my senior year," said Buelow, a center fielder who batted .305 with 20 runs scored and 22 RBI as a junior with the Tigers. "Change is tough in your senior year, but we'll be just fine. We have everyone coming back except our top two pitchers."
Shannon Schaub was named coached June 25 after seven seasons as an assistant coach at Ashland University. She replaced Kennedy Haynes, who was an interim coach in 2018. Schaub will be the third coach in Buelow's four seasons with Wittenberg.
Buelow was named first-team all-league this spring for the Tigers, who finished 24-17 overall and went 15-1 to win the North Coast Athletic Conference regular-season championship. They then lost in a semifinal in the NCAC tournament.
"The difference between getting new coaches going into my senior season was that at Darby, I knew (coach Shawn Papp) before he became coach," Buelow said. "So I knew what to expect. I don't know much about (Schaub), but my job as a second-year captain will be to help acclimate the younger girls and get everybody on the same page."
Buelow is batting .312 with 60 runs scored and 41 RBI in her career at Wittenberg and has been a three-year starter. She was honorable mention all-NCAC as a sophomore after batting .358 as a freshman.
"I actually got off to a slow start this year offensively, but started putting it together by midseason," Buelow said. "I'm a competitor and it bothered me. I want next season to be my best year because it will probably be my last time playing softball. We'll have five seniors and we're going to push everyone hard to play to our ability as a team. Everyone has to be accountable."
As a senior in 2015 at Darby, Buelow batted .422 with 30 RBI and was named first-team all-league for the second season in a row. The Panthers finished 8-18.
"We had five seniors, but Lauren was our only senior starter and we relied a lot on her," said Papp, who now has led Darby for four seasons. "We improved our win total by three games and that was largely due to her leadership and work ethic. She's one of the hardest workers we've had.
"Her dad, Dan Buelow, was an assistant coach and was a big help to me in my transition and Lauren also was very reliable, dependable and helpful in making things run smoothly. She is a smart young lady, which makes her a great player in terms of running bases and knowing where all the plays are. She was strong fundamentally and was a great contact hitter with a good eye and a tremendous on-base percentage."
Buelow, who is majoring in biology and plans to attend medical school, said she doesn't pay attention to her stats during the season.
"I know if I'm playing well or not, but I don't want to know the numbers because it just adds extra pressure," she said. "I still have the same approach as I did at Darby. I want to get on base and set the table for teammates. I'm not a power hitter. I hit mostly singles with some doubles, but just do my part to help the team anyway possible.
"Defensively, I want to run down everything. I know if I can get there, I'll make the play."