The West Jefferson softball team has knocked on the door for four straight years, this time around it’s ready to kick it in.
The Lady Roughriders have lost in the Division III Central District championship game four years in a row. Constantly getting to the title tilt and coming up short has put coach Jim Stevens and his players in a different mindset and they’re ready to finally breakthrough.
“We’ve got a bunch of varsity returners,” coach Jim Stevens said. “We lost three seniors, but we have some very talented young players coming in and it’s another re-loading year for us. We’ve been knocking on the door for four years and we’re ready to break through. We’re ready to get beyond Pickerington.”
The site of the district championship game has been the final stumbling block for West Jeff for years, but by returning nearly every single important role player from that team a year ago the Roughriders enter the season focused and ready.
“I think the girls will pick up right where we left off last year,” Stevens said. “The hardest thing for the coaches will be holding back the reins with this bunch. We’ve got to take it one game at a time. We’ve got to remind them that this season is a marathon and not a sprint. We really don’t want to peak too early.”
West Jefferson has won four straight Mid-State League Ohio Division Championships but this will be the school’s last spring in the league before moving to the Ohio Heritage Conference next school year.
The Roughriders have made it a goal to close out their last season in the league with yet another MSL championship.
“One of the goals for this team is to go out on top and leave a lasting impression with the MSL,” Stevens said. “They also want to send a message to the OHC letting them know what’s coming. I feel extremely positive that this team will contend for a league championship this year and will head into the OHC and be able to more than hold our own.”
The team returns many of its best players from a team that was 17-7 last year, including sophomores Brooke Roberts and Isabelle Fisher were all-league first team selections. Other players who earned postseason awards and are back this year are sophomores Haley Kurtz and Lexi Bowman as well as junior Harlie Keith, all of which were second team All-MSL picks. Alexis Good who was an honorable mention selection also is back.
“We’re excited to get the season started,” the coach said. “We play a very competitive schedule which help us keep our girls sharp. We want to play good teams to force us to have to play well. We want to be at our best at the end of the year because we want to get over that hump of the district final.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.