Watterson Roundup: Young Eagles softball team excited for future

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Senior Natalie Funge and the Watterson softball team finished 13-13 overall and 4-2 in the CCL
under first-year coach Shawn Bray. The Eagles batted .386 as a team.

The Watterson softball team’s postseason opener represents a microcosm of what transpired much of this season. 

After scoring twice in both the second and third innings to build a 4-1 lead, the 16th-seeded Eagles couldn’t hold the lead as 29th-seeded Hilliard Bradley scored six times in the sixth on the way to an 11-6 win May 10 in the first round of the Division I district tournament. 

Watterson also came up short 3-2 against Upper Arlington, the No. 7 seed for the district tournament, in its regular-season finale May 8 after leading 2-0. 

Another groundbreaking moment could have taken place May 1 against Grove City, which ended up being the district’s No. 2 seed, but the Greyhounds rallied to tie the game at 6 in the bottom of the seventh and won 7-6 in nine innings. 

The Eagles hope the experiences they gained this season, when their No. 1 pitcher and two of their other top players were freshmen, will lead to a stronger future. 

“We just had some growing-pain mistakes and some young minds out there, just learning how to deal with pressure situations,” coach Shawn Bray said. “That seemed to be our Achilles’ heel this year that some of our girls get a little tense and tight, afraid to mess up. We had some good teams on the ropes and let them off the hook.

“I’m very proud of this team. I know our record doesn’t show what we did as a team, but we had a lot of youth. We batted .386 as a team, which is pretty good, especially with the schedule we played.”

Watterson finished 13-13 overall in its first season under Bray. The Eagles placed second (4-2) in the CCL behind DeSales (5-1). 

Rachel Reuter, who started at catcher and batted .536 with four home runs and 40 RBI, led a senior class that also featured Natalie Funge (OF) and Caroline Peck (INF). Reuter has committed to Ashland. 

“They were (strong leaders), especially Rachel, who was our catcher and field general out there directing traffic,” Bray said. “She did a great job, especially with our freshman pitcher.”

Freshman Mary Gamble stepped into the No. 1 starting pitcher role and finished with a 3.52 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 101 innings. Junior Julia Hall threw 46 innings. 

Freshman shortstop Alex Mosholder should be the top returnee on offense after batting .487 with 43 runs scored and 19 stolen bases. 

Freshman Elizabeth Hohlefelder started at third base, with juniors Anna Emswiler (1B), Kat McGrath (OF) and Sydney McKinney (OF) and sophomore Kenzie Jones (designated player) also playing key roles. Jones hit four home runs and McKinney batted .418. 

Juniors Amelia Pepe (INF/P) and Samantha Wehrle (1B) and freshman Soia Siles (utility) are others eligible to return. 

“It was basically our first year with our coach and with a lot of freshmen playing, it was really different,” Emswiler said. “We had to learn to play with them and adapt. I think we had a lot of growth and made a lot of progress.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek 

SOFTBALL 

Record: 13-13 overall  

CCL standings: DeSales (5-1), Watterson (4-2), Ready (2-4), Hartley (1-5) 

Seniors lost: Natalie Funge, Caroline Peck and Rachel Reuter 

Key returnees: Anna Emswiler, Mary Gamble, Elizabeth Hohlefelder, Kenzie Jones, Kat McGrath, Sydney McKinney and Alex Mosholder  

Postseason: Lost to Hilliard Bradley 11-6 in first round of Division I district tournament