Sam Peters had every reason to expect a breakout season with the Canal Winchester softball team.

She emphasized weightlifting during the offseason to improve on an already lofty batting average and again planned to play several positions, including pitcher and third base.

Even so, Peters' individual accomplishments were the last thing on her mind before her junior season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, given that the Indians returned their top four hitters and three pitchers from 2019.

"I don't want to speak too much about myself because our whole team felt this was going to be our year," Peters said. "We were expected to go farther into the (Division I district) tournament this season with our seniors, junior class and the few freshmen we had. To have the season canceled is really unfortunate."

Peters was coming off a sophomore season in which she batted .432 with 32 hits and a team-leading 22 RBI and was 9-4 in the circle with a 5.96 ERA, 24 strikeouts and 11 walks in 54 innings. Her batting average was third on the team behind then-freshman Shayla Clanin (.463) and classmate Samantha Zungri (.446).

Peters was named second-team all-OCC-Capital Division and honorable mention all-district as the Indians went 12-11 overall and 4-6 in the league and lost to Grove City 10-0 in five innings in the second round of the district tournament.

As a freshman, Peters led the Indians in batting average (.429) and hits (33) and had 21 RBI as well as two of the team's seven home runs.

"The No. 1 thing she's done a pretty good job of is being a leader, showing up to all of our workouts and providing a great example," coach Casey Whitlatch said. "We'd been going since September with open fields and lifting a few times a week. I don't think she missed too many of those (sessions) at all.

"She was going to pitch for us. She's a huge utility player. She hasn't been in the outfield for us, but she was going to pitch, catch and play third base, for sure. She's just a versatile athlete. She's done a pretty good job of just leading and going wherever we need."

According to Whitlatch, where Peters played on a given day would have depended on the matchup. While she expected to play third base most of the time, Peters was going to share pitching responsibilities with junior Brooklyn Best and Zungri.

Peters also played first base and shortstop at times last year.

"I had worked with our team's weightlifting trainer in the winter and he was able to improve the velocity at which the ball comes off my bat. I expected more from my batting average," Peters said. "Brooklyn, Sam and I are all equally talented (as pitchers) and I assumed, just like in years prior, we'd end up splitting time.

"I've worked on using my legs more, which will help me throw harder. Freshman year, we were freshman pitchers throwing to grown women. It's time now for us to step it up a little bit."

Peters plans to play in college, another reason she rued the loss of her junior season. She was hopeful that a productive summer travel season, if one is played, will lead to scholarship opportunities.

"This was supposed to be the year," Peters said. "I am hoping we all can come back stronger next year."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave