Jonathan Alder softball coach Dave McGrew has a different team than what he’s had the last few seasons.
His Lady Pioneers (16-3, 9-2) are tied atop the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division standings with River Valley and North Union despite having a roster loaded with talented freshmen playing major roles. The squad was just tabbed at the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Division II Central District.
Relying heavily on younger players in the postseason may not be as daunting a task as it sounds his year for McGrew. He believes his senior leaders have done a good job of bringing the talented, younger players along and now the freshmen are ready to take the reins.
“Kayla (Fredendall) and Chloe (Grove) have been great senior leaders,” he said. “But there’s this moxie the freshmen have, a boldness that they believe they can get off the bus and win who ever they play.
“There’s no question we’ve been upset the last two years in the district by Granville. These younger kids don’t care about all of that they want to go out and play. They want to play Granville and they want another shot at River Valley.
Lakewood, the No. 1 ranked team in the state and district’s top seed is undefeated and in the opposite district bracket. That leaves No. 2 seed River Valley, No. 3 Alder and No. 5 Granville all fighting for a the district crown.
Alder will open the postseason May 11 at home against No. 22 Columbus International, starting at 5 p.m. A win will likely mean another clash with the Aces of Granville May 16. A possible district title tilt could come a day or two later against River Valley.
Valley has beaten the Pioneers twice this season, but that’s not scaring off McGrew’s crew.
“This team is a lot different than the team’s we’ve had here,” the coach said. “They want to play River Valley and Granville. They don’t want to start their careers with a monkey on their back. We’re starting to peak at the right time, the younger kids are coming along and our seniors are doing a great job leading.”
London (5-14) is seeded 12th out of the 22 teams in the D-II tourney and will play at No. 11 Hamilton Township May 9. The two teams already played this season with London winning a 8-7 decision. The winner of the London-HTHS match-up will advance to meet No. 13 Bishop Hartley May 11.
West Jefferson was also tabbed the No. 3 seed in the upcoming D-III tourney and had a first-round bye. The squad will host the winner of the first round game between No. 15 Fairbanks and No. 21 Centerburg on May 11.
The top seed in D-III is North Union and is in the opposite bracket from the Roughriders. West Jeff is in the same bracket at No. 2 Cardington and No. 4 Worthington Christian, but would only have to face one of those two if it reached a district final.
A win by coach Jim Stevens’ team over Fairbanks or Centerburg would put it into a district semifinal against either No. 6 Johnstown and No. 7 Fredericktown May 16.
Madison-Plains is the 18th seed in D-III and will open with a first round game at Grandview Tuesday, May 9 at 5 p.m. The winner will advance to meet No. 2 Cardington May 11.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.