Westland Roundup: Cougars softball team endures challenging season

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Senior Melina Morley played catcher and third base for Westland, which finished 2-18 overall and 0-10 in the OCC-Ohio Division. Morley was honorable mention all-league.

In a season hampered by COVID-19, the Westland softball team struggled to find success. 

The Cougars’ start to the season was delayed because of the pandemic, with numerous games postponed or canceled. 

After an opening-round bye in the Division I district tournament, 43rd-seeded Westland lost at second-seeded Grove City 22-0 in five innings May 12 to finish 2-18 overall. 

“That last game was really tough,” said shortstop Haley Starkey, who was one of five seniors on the team. “I’ve been doing this for four years and I played softball before and now I’m completely done, so it was really tough that last game.” 

Sarah Shellenbarger, who guided the program for four years, announced her resignation late in the season. She did not respond to requests for information on the season. 

“She taught me a lot while I was there,” Starkey said of Shellenbarger. “She was a good person and she did a lot for the team.” 

The Cougars went 0-10 in the OCC-Ohio Division to finish sixth behind champion Grove City (10-0). 

Westland’s wins came against Marion Harding (15-1 in five innings April 3) and Whetstone (8-6 on April 10). 

Shortstop Haley Starkey was one of five seniors on the Cougars. “It was definitely nice after not having anything last year,” she said. “I did not expect to play this year because of COVID, but I was glad that we did get to play.”

The five seniors played all three seasons at the varsity level. The 2020 season was canceled because of the pandemic.

Senior Kayla Miller (P) was named special mention all-league and senior Melina Morley (C/3B) was honorable mention all-league. 

“I’m pretty happy with how I did throughout (my prep career),” Starkey said. “I was really hoping that my senior season would have gone better than it did, but it was all right.” 

Alyssa Mullet (OF) and Fernanda Rojas (1B) were the other seniors. 

“This season turned out to be a rough season with COVID and all that came with it,” Mullet said. “However, this team bonded and played as well as they could through the circumstances that were thrown at us. We obviously didn’t finish with a record that we came out to accomplish. However, we played as a team and accomplished goals within the team throughout the year.” 

Players eligible to return include junior Esther De la Cruz (OF), sophomores Ireland Plott (C/3B), Lexi Shumaker (INF) and Morgan Spires (INF) and freshmen Aileen Mendoza Dominguez (SS/2B), Gabriella Shaw (1B) and Unique Taylor (P). 

“It was definitely nice after not having anything last year,” Starkey said. “I did not expect to play this year because of COVID, but I was glad that we did get to play.”

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

SOFTBALL 

Record: 2-18 overall 

OCC-Ohio standings: Grove City (10-0), Central (8-2), Gahanna (6-4), Pickerington North (4-6), New Albany (2-8), Westland (0-10) 

Seniors lost: Kayla Miller, Melina Morley, Alyssa Mullet, Fernanda Rojas and Haley Starkey 

Key returnees: Esther De la Cruz and Morgan Spires 

Postseason: Lost to Grove City 22-0 (5 innings) in second round of Division I district tournament