Whitehall-Yearling Roundup: Rams softball team aims to 'build a foundation'

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Whitehall junior third baseman Brooklynn Greer races toward first base during a game against Big Walnut in 2019. A year after the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Greer is expected to be one of the Rams' top players.

Although her team lacks numbers, Whitehall-Yearling softball coach Kirsten Lyshe believes it has potential. 

The Rams had just eight players on their roster at one point in the preseason before adding three freshmen to allow for a complete lineup. 

“We have a young team, which is nice because it’s good to build a foundation with them and be able to come up over the next four years,” Lyshe said. 

The Rams are looking to improve on a 5-17 record in Lyshe’s first season in 2019. Whitehall went 3-6 in the MSL-Ohio Division. 

Last season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

“We have a lot of returning players,” Lyshe said. “Losing the season last year allowed them to realize how important school sports are to them, especially seeing how quickly things can be taken. A lot of them now are more appreciative.” 

Whitehall opens the season with an MSL-Ohio contest against visiting Bexley on April 5. 

Senior shortstop Mackenzie Schmittauer led the Rams in batting average in 2019, hitting .290. She was first-team all-league. 

Senior catcher Kylie Brown, another key returnee, should provide leadership. 

“I love playing catcher,” Brown said. “I’ve been playing catcher since I started. I like being able to see the field. I like being able to know where the ball needs to go, know the plays to yell out to the team. I like to know what’s going on and what we need to do.” 

Junior third baseman Brooklynn Greer also returns and is considered another key leader. 

Other senior returnees are Shyaira Johnson (1B/OF) and Ashley Villeda (OF). 

The other senior is outfielder Ry’Yair Smith. 

Freshman Brittany Goodman will be the starting pitcher. 

Other players are sophomore Brynn Whistle (utility player) and freshmen Nicole Dickens (OF), Zaleah Palmer (OF) and Michaela Skinner (OF). 

“We definitely have potential,” Brown said. “We’re more like a family. We communicate really well with each other. We’re able to help out each other when needed. ... I love coach Lyshe. She’s awesome.” 

Worthington Christian, which won the league title in 2019 at 9-0, is again expected to contend for the championship. 

The non-league schedule includes contests with Division I programs Canal Winchester (April 6), Olentangy Orange (April 16) and Westerville South (April 23). 

“They are definitely a little bit better than us, but it’s a good thing to play the challenging teams because they see how they move and we always pick up some of the things in return,” Lyshe said. 

SOFTBALL

Coach: Kirsten Lyshe second season 

Opener: April 5, home vs. Bexley 

Key athletes: Kylie Brown, Brooklynn Greer, Shyaira Johnson and Mackenzie Schmittauer

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank