Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
So, by now, everyone in the state of Ohio has heard the news that school has been canceled for the remainder of the year, which additionally means that spring sports have all but officially received the axe as well.
While our hearts break for the seniors across our coverage area who unfairly surrender their final year of eligibility, it’s motivated us even more to give a spotlight to our athletes.
We’ve decided to come out of the gates firing with some predictions. Bold predictions.
Here’s five of them for a 2020 softball season that could have been.
NOTE: There are no predictions of the Southern Hill Athletic Conference because SOSA wasn’t covering the SHAC during spring sports in 2019.
5. Oak Hill’s Caitlyn Brisker repeats as SOC II Player of the Year
After a slow start to her junior season, Brisker absolutely caught fire. She continued her rampage through opposing pitchers until the season was over, hitting .458 with seven bombs, 18 RBIs and 37 runs scored. There’s literally no reason why she couldn’t put up those numbers again, and then some. The Oaks’ shortstop was athletic enough to get on base frequently, possesses the power to play long ball and when there’s ducks on the pond, she has the clutch gene to get the job done. Oak Hill was primed for an abundance of success and Brisker, sitting in the heart of the team’s lineup, is one of the main reasons why.
4. Unioto’s Avery Miller wins Player of the Year honors
Have you seen her swing the bat? The SVC’s home run leader would’ve picked up where she left off last season after hitting .503 alongside five homers and 31 RBIs. Those were freshman numbers. Can you imagine how good Miller would’ve been after an entire season to fine-tune her swing and develop additional plate presence? She’d be hitting in the middle of a lineup that’s jam-packed with talent and would’ve had plenty of opportunities to drive in runs. For three years running, Westfall has claimed the POY award thanks to Marcy Dudgeon, Emily Robinson and Becca Brown. Miller would’ve been the first Unioto player to win the award since 2016.
3. Westfall wins Scioto Valley Conference title … again
I mean, how can you argue with this point? This, quite possibly, isn’t even a bold prediction. The Mustangs returned plenty, and I do mean plenty, of talent with the likes of reigning SVC POY Marcy Dudgeon and fellow seniors Josie Williams, Darby Minor, Ayzia Fullen and Liz Stonerock. That group would have returned to lead a team that finished 23-6 overall last season, and 14-0 in the SVC. The league title would’ve been the Mustangs’ fourth consecutive crown and sixth in the last seven years. And I don’t think the hardware would’ve stopped there, either. A lengthy tournament run was absolutely possible, especially after last season’s district final loss.
2. Notre Dame reaches Division IV state semifinal
After last year’s 2-0 regional semifinal loss to Peebles, Notre Dame knew it had firepower returning to its roster. The Titans lost only two seniors after that loss and brought back the likes of senior All-Ohio pitcher Cassie Schaefer, as well as shortstop Taylor Schmidt, second baseman Isabel Cassidy, catcher Claire Dettwiller, center fielder Ava Hassel, first baseman Mady Suter, etc. The list goes on and on. Because of those names, I don’t see a reality where the Titans wouldn’t have reached a regional final and gotten over the hump. You’re talking about at team that finished 22-3 and ran through the SOC I unblemished in 2019. The Titans had all the right pieces to insure a trip to Akron, and a chance to play in the state championship game.
1. Wheelersburg wins Division III state title
You read that right. This area would’ve had a state champion to follow. When you think about the firepower that Wheelersburg would’ve presented this year, it makes sense. In the infield, you have Boo Sturgill, Rylie Hughes, Addi Collins, Bella Williams and Laney Eller, in the outfield, there’s Brittani Wolfenbarker, and in the circle, it’s Sydney Spence. Oh yeah, there’s also freshman Macee Eaton, who coach Teresa Ruby would’ve had to find a spot for. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Put simply, zero teams in Division III possessed as much talent as Wheelersburg this spring. It’s just a fact. I honestly believe the Pirates would’ve won their first state championship since 2016.