Softball: Grove City Greyhounds striving for another strong season
A lost 2020 season hasn’t changed the goals for the Grove City softball team.
After advancing to a Division I regional semifinal in 2019, losing 2-1 to Westerville Central, the Greyhounds never received the opportunity to compete last spring because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Coach Ted Williams, who is in his 20th season, believes his team has the potential to reach its objectives.
“It would be nice to add another year in all the areas that we can have numbers,” Williams said, referring to the titles displayed on the home outfield fence. “A goal every year is to take care of the OCC and let’s go from there.”
The Greyhounds opened with doubleheader sweeps of Buckeye Valley on March 27 and Olentangy on March 29.
The top returnee is senior outfielder Maddie Wilcox, who batted .460 with 37 runs, 26 RBI, 10 doubles, nine home runs and 18 stolen bases in 2019. She was first-team all-district and all-OCC-Ohio Division and honorable mention all-state as the Greyhounds finished 21-8.
Senior shortstop Sydney Sharron batted .376 with 23 runs, five doubles, five home runs and 34 RBI. She was special mention all-league.
Also back are seniors Avery Ciborek (C), Chloe Clark (INF) and Kendall Weber (OF).
Junior Gabby Adams, a transfer from Groveport, and sophomore Rachel Duff have split time in the circle in the early season.
Williams said senior Katie Gallagher (OF), a transfer from Ready, also should contribute.
“It’s real nice to be back,” Williams said. “It’s nice to see kids on the bus, having a good time and being together. That’s probably just as important as playing a little softball.”
Grove City is competing in the OCC-Ohio with Gahanna, New Albany, Pickerington North, Westerville Central and Westland. It opens league play April 15 at New Albany.
“We hope we’re in the mix every year,” Williams said.
INSIDE THE GREYHOUNDS
•Coach: Ted Williams, 20th season
•Next game: April 8 vs. DeSales
•Key athletes: Gabby Adams, Sydney Sharron and Maddie Wilcox
Central Crossing returns only two players with varsity experience in junior outfielders Skylar Bryant and Bella MacKellar.
That leaves 11th-year coach Rona Dorsey working to get things up to speed with her newcomers to the varsity game.
“They’re such a good group of kids and they’re all working hard,” Dorsey said. “They just need to get more experience.
“The majority of them were in there lifting weights since Nov. 1 and they were in there on rowing machines since Dec. 1. Having 16 or 17 kids there lifting weights at 6:30 a.m. shows how much getting better means to them. They came into the preseason at a better level than we usually see at the start of the preseason.”
Sophomores Brianna Garner and Olivia Noonan will do the bulk of the pitching, with sophomores Maggie Bostard and Marissa Ross splitting time at catcher.
Senior Rebekah Reynolds will be at first base backed up by sophomore Rachel Jaynes, with sophomore Jamie Unger and freshman Cassidy Pfeiffer at second. Freshmen Kaylee Sink and Sara Solberg will play shortstop, and junior Bryelle Root and sophomore Darby Robinson will see action at third.
The outfield will include senior Madison France and junior Abby Sullivan in left, MacKellar and Noonan in center and Bryant and junior Mariah Douglas in right.
“We’ve been working to get everyone on the same page,” MacKellar said. “We have a lot of talent that we’re trying to bring all together.”
The Comets opened with a pair of losses March 27, falling 11-0 to host Pickerington North in five innings and 13-3 to DeSales in five innings.
“This team is so special with their youthful enthusiasm,” Dorsey said. “They’ve bought into the process of what it takes to become great. So far they’ve done a lot right, and now we need to see them perform during games.”
INSIDE THE COMETS
•Coach: Rona Dorsey, 11th season
•Next game: April 8 vs. Dublin Jerome
•Key athletes: Skylar Bryant, Madison France, Brianna Garner, Bella MacKellar, Olivia Noonan and Rebekah Reynolds
Chad Kennedy is looking forward to his first season as coach at Grove City Christian.
Kennedy, 42, was preparing to lead the Eagles a year ago before COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the season.
“We’re ready,” said Kennedy, who also coaches at the travel level and is president of the Vipers Fastpitch club. “We worked hard in the offseason.”
He replaced his father, Ron Kennedy, who stepped down after the 2019 season and also coached the Eagles in 2016.
Grove City Christian opened April 5 with an MSL-Cardinal game against Harvest Prep.
“We want to be competitive,” Chad Kennedy said. “I told them that we can probably win at least half of our games.”
Taylor Ison (C/2B) was honorable mention all-league in 2019 after batting .344 with four doubles and a triple. Ison, the only senior in the program, should start behind the plate.
Also back are juniors Maddie Anderson (3B/SS), Grace Leffel (1B/P) and Paige Spencer (CF/2B).
Sophomore Mckenzie Kennedy, Chad’s daughter, is expected to be the No. 1 pitcher.
Sophomores Sienna Brunicardi (RF) and Carissa Hunt (LF) are expected to start in the outfield along with Spencer.
Freshmen Victoria Black (SS) and Aubrey Smith (2B) should round out the infield.
“It should be a competitive league,” Chad Kennedy said. “I don’t know if we’ll be as competitive as Berne Union and Fairfield Christian, but we’re hoping to be fairly competitive with everybody else.”
INSIDE THE EAGLES
•Coach: Chad Kennedy, first season
•Next game: April 9 at Millersport
•Key athletes: Maddie Anderson, Taylor Ison, Grace Leffel and Paige Spencer