Lady Eagles Have High Expectations
High school softball, like every other sport, normally goes in cycles. One year, a school will clearly be a lot stronger than the rest. In another year, other teams will dominate with above average participants.
But, not so much with the Magnolia softball team. They seem to grow good softball players in New Martinsville. The Eagles have been to the Regional finals the past several years and, this season, they look to make it all the way to the state tournament.
There seems to be a bumper crop of talented players on this year’s team, even with the loss of some good quality players. The 2010 Lady Eagles have batters that can drive the ball with authority, pitchers that can deliver strikes, and players who can field the ball smoothly and get it to the right bases.
In the past several seasons, the Eagles would be the clear-cut favorite in the region, considering the talent they return. However, this season, the Eagles appear to be neck-and-neck with Point Pleasant, which knocked the Lady Eagles from another trip to the 2009 state championship. The two teams appear to be headed in that same direction again this season.
But, MHS fifth-year Head Coach Mark Batton, who went 17-5 last season, just wants to take it one game at a time. And, if they are fortunate enough to face the Lady Blacks once more in the regional, they will be locked in and ready to rock and roll.
Perhaps the best evidence is that Batton has his ace back in Tori Tharp. Tharp was only a freshman last season and fortified her position as the top pitcher on the squad. She has excellent control of her throws and can and will paint the corner with some added mustard. Tharp had a 9-4 record last year with 141 strike outs. She pitched 12 innings in the Regional finale, striking out 15 and earning second team All-Valley.
Also back are seniors Kelsi Heasley and Alexajo Hanna, who were consistent hitters that performed well all season. Hanna was the number two pitcher for the Eagles with a 5-1 record, while striking-out a career-high 19 batters in a game last season.
Heasley looks to be the clean-up batter. See has a lot of pop in her bat and will hold down first base with the loss of graduated Corrine Murdock. She will be backed up by Cassadi Wells. Murdock was a first team All-OVAC choice and was a Special Honorable Mention All-State selection.
Hanna, when she isn’t giving Tharp a break on the mound, will field balls at second base, while giving Heasley a consistent hitter in front or behind her in the lineup. Backing up Hanna at second base is Gauri Patel.
But, as the pitching goes, so does the catching. In comes sophomore Marissa Bosley, who did quite well behind the plate a season ago. She batted .278 and handled the Eagle pitchers very well, while holding teams from making any noise from the base paths. She also had several key hits at the plate and ran the bases very effectively. Bosley will be backed up by Hillary Feldmeier.
Also back this season is sophomore Dallas Mullett. She played second base and shortstop and can play some third base, too. Mullett came on strong late in the season and should take over short with the loss of the graduated Bree Carr.
Third base is up for grabs, but Jordan Babe looks to be the front-runner to take over the hot corner left vacant by the graduation of Brittany Batton. Brittany was a First-Team All-OVAC and earned a Special Mention All-State, while playing the hot corner.
Abbey Horner will lead off for the Eagles and hold down centerfield. She was a consistent hitter batting .361 and will keep opposing teams on their toes when she gets on base. Others looking to break into the starting lineup include Andrea Lockhart, Emily Blake, Kennedy Slampak, and Gabby Hostetler.
Also lost from graduation last year was Lyn Miller. She was a good bat and played flawlessly in the field.
The rest of the team includes Heather Goddard, Austa McDougal, Makenzie Dawson, Casey Greathouse, Maghan Miller, Whitney O’Neil, Tiphany Trail, and Jessica Moore, who may very well see plenty of action.
Magnolia doesn’t shy away from anyone and has one of the toughest schedules in the valley, facing teams like John Marshall, Parkersburg, Brooke, Point Pleasant, Union Local, Ravenswood, Williamstown, St. John, Wheeling Central, Monroe Central, St. Clairsville, and Union Local. The Lady Eagles also will do battle with local teams Tyler Consolidated, River, and Valley. In addition, they host a tournament and will play in the Undo’s Tournament.
Coaches Batton and Danny Anderson believe that this season’s team is up to the challenge and should get off to a better start than they did last season with positive practices outside. They also believe this team has the talent to play with anybody. And, if they can get that key hit with players in scoring position, they have a good shot to bring home the bacon.
If the Blue Eagles don’t come out of the gate as fast as they would like, don’t give up on them. Their expectations are to focus on one game at a time and to finish very strong.
“We’ve got to be patient and I’ve got to be patient, too,” Batton reminded himself. “We’ve got a great corps of veteran players and we will need to supplement that corps with some underclassmen. I believe we can be very competitive as time goes on. We have good competition battles everywhere on the field.”
The Lady Eagles won their home opener against the St. Marys Blue Devils, 5-3 and knocked off the Valley Lumberjills in a double-header to start the season 3-0.
MHS will travel to Moundsville tonight and Tyler Consolidated Thursday, but won’t play at home again until March 29 against Monroe Central at 5 p.m.