It still brings great pain to Dublin Coffman softball coach Scott Tillman when he thinks back to when the 2020 season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That spring, the Shamrocks had what Tillman believed was an exciting group of sophomores set to join a roster led by senior pitcher Kelsi Anderson, who has since settled into her second season as the No. 1 starter for Division II Slippery Rock.
Now with a large group of seniors who gained experience last season, Coffman hopes it can return to the level of success it enjoyed in 2019 when it was a Division I district runner-up.
“We had 14 juniors last year and now we have nine seniors,” said Tillman, who is in his eighth season. “We have five kids back that (earned all-OCC) honors last year. This is the best class I’ve had of seniors, which is why 2020 still hurts. We’ve got lofty goals and we’re excited about it. We want to win the OCC and play in the district title game.”
Coffman, which went 13-14 overall and 4-6 in the OCC-Central Division last season, has never won a district championship.
Last season, the Shamrocks flashed their potential when they upset eighth-seeded Westerville Central 10-2 in a second-round district tournament game as the No. 24 seed before losing 3-2 to Hilliard Darby in a semifinal.
Anderson’s replacement the last two seasons, senior Maya Miles, also has a college future in the sport after signing with Tiffin. She was second-team all-league a year ago and figures to pitch most of the innings.
Miles will be backed up by junior Kenzie Palmer, who will be the regular first baseman and also could see action at shortstop.
Senior center fielder Taylor Covington is an Indiana Tech recruit in basketball who was first-team all-league last season.
The other returning first-team all-league honoree is senior Marti Henkel, who starts at catcher and has committed to Bowling Green.
“Maya is a great pitcher,” Henkel said. “She’ll throw the fastball, changeup, drop curve and a riseball. For school ball, she’s one of the faster pitchers and she’ll fight. We played (Dublin Youth Athletics) and travel together and we’ve created a good bond.”
Other returnees include seniors Jamie Hamed (SS, second-team all-league) and Julia Kassis (3B, special mention all-league).
The only player lost to graduation who received all-league honors was first baseman Taylor Airy, who was honorable mention.
“We have a pretty good group, a pretty athletic group,” said Miles, who played a key role this winter for the regional runner-up girls basketball team along with Covington. “A lot of us have played together for a long time, so I think that’s what makes us so successful together. I’m excited to see where the season could go just because we do have a bunch of athletes.”
The other seniors expected to start are Sidney Dosch (2B) and Ella Olberding (RF), with sophomore Ella Krumpak expected to be in left field.
Miles’ sister, freshman Layla Miles, is likely to see action as a designated player and also can pitch.
Senior Lily Foster provides depth at catcher, junior Megan Day is expected to see time at second base and in the outfield and senior Sophia Sims is a backup infielder.
“We have pretty much the same team as last year, minus Taylor Airy,” Henkel said. “I feel like we have some of the best players in the area and when we get into a rhythm, we’ll get into a good run.”
•Coach: Scott Tillman, eighth season
•Top players: Taylor Covington, Sidney Dosch, Jamie Hamed, Marti Henkel, Julia Kassis, Maya Miles, Ella Olberding and Kenzie Palmer
•Key losses: Taylor Airy, Grace Cady, Allie Kelly, Leah Montgomery and Emma Rice
•Last season: 13-14 overall
•2021 OCC-Central standings: Olentangy Liberty (9-1), Upper Arlington (9-1), Hilliard Bradley (6-4), Coffman (4-6), Olentangy Orange (2-8), Hilliard Davidson (0-10)
•2021 postseason: Def. Big Walnut 13-3; def. Westerville Central 10-2; lost to Hilliard Darby 3-2 in Division I district semifinal
•Coach: Maggie Cremeans, first season
•Top players: Abbie Barney, Izzy Damewood, Caroline Gross, Rachel Jarrett, Ciara Reitz and Kylyn Smith
•Key loss: Amaris Lowery
•Last season: 3-16 overall
•2021 OCC-Cardinal standings: Marysville (9-1), Darby (7-3), Olentangy Berlin (7-3), Thomas Worthington (3-7), Jerome (2-8), Olentangy (2-8)
•2021 postseason: Lost to Darby 9-3 in first round of Division I district tournament
•Outlook: Jerome is under new leadership as Maggie Cremeans has replaced Brooke Hanson, who coached the Celtics for one season. Cremeans had been an assistant in the program for six seasons.
Senior Caroline Gross (3B/1B), who batted .460 last season, returns along with seniors Rachel Jarrett (C), Ciara Reitz (CF) and Kylyn Smith (INF/OF) and junior Izzy Damewood (INF).
Other returnees include senior Ashley Belu (OF), junior Dylan Haines (P/utility player) and sophomores Lilly Niehaus (C/OF) and Delayney Stoner (INF).
Freshman Abbie Barney is the starting pitcher, and juniors Mia Kure (C/utility player) and Sydney McKinney (3B/1B) also should contribute.
Gross was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. Jarrett and Stoner were special mention all-league and Reitz was honorable mention all-league.
A key loss to graduation was Amaris Lowery (SS), who hit .370 and was second-team all-league.
•Quotable: “I wante
d to keep coaching them and growing the program. Last year was a building year. The whole team was basically new to varsity, so this year we’re looking to do great things. We have five seniors. I think we’ll do really well.” — Cremeans
•Coach: Doug Bell, first season
•Top players: Madi Comstock, Taylor Henry, Isabella Jauregui and Caroline Piatt
•Key loss: Lacey Henry
•Last season: 9-15 overall
•2021 OCC-Capital standings: Delaware (13-0), Westerville North (10-4), Westerville South (10-4), Canal Winchester (9-5), Big Walnut (5-9), Scioto (4-8), Worthington Kilbourne (3-11), Franklin Heights (0-13)
•2021 postseason: Lost to New Albany 11-2 in first round of Division I district tournament
•Outlook: Scioto has a new coach as Doug Bell has replaced Brooke Ott, who stepped down after two seasons because of family commitments.
Bell, who previously coached softball at Hilliard Weaver Middle School and Hilliard Davidson and is a social studies teacher at Weaver, inherits a group led by junior Isabella Jauregui (C/SS). She hit .373 with four home runs and 18 RBI a year ago.
Also back are seniors Caroline Piatt (3B, .370) and Madi Comstock (2B/SS, .361, 24 RBI, 3 home runs).
Junior pitcher Taylor Henry finished 9-14 and had a 5.24 ERA with 108 strikeouts and 58 walks in 147 2/3 innings. She batted .297 with 15 RBI and seven doubles.
Other key contributors should include senior Sadie Jauregui (OF), junior Hunter Fadorsen (1B) and sophomore Faith Kinzer (OF).
Isabella Jauregui was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. Comstock was second-team all-league.
•Quotable: “I’m still learning the team. Scioto plays more to who I am because nothing is given to them. Everything is earned and that can give us an edge and make us tougher and scrappy. I like that. I have three great seniors who have really helped me out because right from the start they were all in. We want to be the best team in Dublin. We want to win more games than they won last year, and we want to earn the reputation as a team that never gives up. We fight everybody to the very end.” — Bell