The West Jefferson High School softball team has made winning league champion an annual thing.
The Lady Roughriders enter the 2018 season having captured at least a share of five straight league titles. But as the team opens the season this year, a whole new host of challenges await coach Jim Stevens’ team as West Jefferson High School will compete in its first spring as a member of the Ohio Heritage Conference.
West Jeff won five Mid-State League Ohio Division crowns in a row, and luckily for the Roughriders they enter the new conference with a whole host of talented, varsity-experienced athletes ready to keep the championship streak alive.
“We feel very positive about the team this year, we have a lot of talent and the team chemistry is working well,” Stevens said. “Having the varsity experience really helps a lot, and those players are doing a great job helping bring the younger players along to help develop a stronger team.”
The collection of veterans is highlighted by seniors Harlie Keith, Madison Trein, Breanna Oldaker and Taylor Watts, as well as a special junior class of Lexi Bowman, Isabelle Fisher, Brooke Roberts, Haley Kurtz and Hannah Parsons.
“This new League is going to be tough, there are a lot of really good teams that have developed great programs over the years and also won state titles, we have a lot of respect for those teams,” the coach said. “I feel that this year will be a challenge, but I also feel that our girls are ready for that challenge. We put together a very tough non-league schedule to help us with that and also to hopefully help get us ready to make a long run in the state tournament.”
The squad will rely heavily on the pitching duo of Fisher and Keith, the leadership of the catcher Bowman the offensive ability of Roberts and Kurtz. But the coaching staff is expecting big things from every player on the roster.
Who are the players you’re expecting to be leaders for you this year?
“Our motto is ‘Teamwork and it takes a whole Team to Win Championships,’” the coach added.
West Jeff was 17-5 a year ago, a season that ended with a devastating 4-3 loss in it’s D-III Central District tournament opener. Don’t look for the Roughriders to change much about how they approach games or how they play.
“We are pretty much staying with what has worked for us in the past with the help of some new players,” he said. “Our players are constantly competing for positions. We have the ability to move players around this year from different positions without missing a beat.”
Stevens said the team goals are simple, “Take it one game at a time, do well in our first season with this new league and make a long run in the state tournament.”
Other members of the roster include sophomores Kora Huber, Reagan Kimbler and McKenna Archey, as well as freshmen Emma Harwood, Allison Gookin and Natalie Miller.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.