Madison-Plains softball coach Kevin Stockham may have a few more grey hairs atop his head at the end of the upcoming season.
He has a good reason for it, he’ll be dealing with something he hasn’t had to deal with in quite some time, a team with a lot of younger players.
“We are young,” Stockham said. “This may be the youngest team we have had here in a long time. We graduated six outstanding seniors last year including three who are playing college ball now. We do have a nice group of returning players to build around with several having played summer ball.”
The coach said his team’s strength will center around the play of returning senior corner infielders Mara Wood (1B) and Macey Long (3B).
Long has had quite a career earning all-league honors three years in a row and first team All-Central District last fall.
“She has great speed, power and arm, led the team in home runs and RBI’s, is the ringleader of this team and is rewriting most offensive school records,” Stockham said.
Wood rotated in at first base last year and appears to have the spot locked up this year. Wood, Long and junior Kennedy Clifton (CF) are the team’s three captains. Clifton spent the last two seasons at second base but will be making the move to centerfield this spring to take advantage of her speed.
Sophomore Kloee Whitaker will take over at second base, speedy sophomore Rachel Guiette (LF) is a lefty who played in every game as a freshman and sophomore Courtney Cress another all-league pick from a year ago moves into her natural catcher spot.
“Our key will be solid hitting and a quick, speedy defense,” the coach said. “Two-thirds of our kids participated in the voluntary weightlifting/conditioning program in the off season.”
Other key players include freshmen Macy Burchett (P/IF) and Addison Tesi (SS/C) and sophomore Ciara Thompson (RF/SS/P).
Most of Golden Eagles players have the ability to play multiple positions which gives the Madison-Plains High School coaching staff some diversity. The pitching will be by committee this year as Burchett and Thompson will spend time in the circle.
The rest of the varsity team includes Alexis Zeweski (senior), Maddi Wood (freshman), Katy Powell (junior), Auburn Pierce (sophomore) and Whitney Stires (sophomore).
The Golden Eagles will play their first season as a member of the Ohio Heritage Conference this spring, moving from the Mid-State League Ohio Division. Plains was 19-9 overall last year which included a 9-3 record in league play (second place). There will be more challenging league schedules for the Eagles this spring.
“The OHC is a very competitive, more balanced league,” Stockham said. “Last year we played the teams that make up our division and found that everyone is very good. Southeastern, Northeastern, and Greeneview are very solid. The North Division is also very tough with Fairbanks, Triad, West Liberty and Mechanicsburg. A 13-game schedule will certainly test us (16 games in 2018 with West Jeff and Greenon joining). There just will not be any nights off, every team is really good.
“Despite the huge graduation loses, our expectations do not change. We do return six kids who have played a lot of varsity softball over the years. We expect to compete each night at the highest level possible. Though we have 17 freshmen and sophomores in the program, we have a great group of upperclassmen who have shown great leadership skills this spring.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.