Woodmore’s softball team didn’t win any sectional, district or regional titles this season. The Wildcats didn’t even win their own conference title, finishing 14-8 overall under seventh-year coach Aaron Clouse.
Woodmore did, however, improve on last year’s mark, and senior pitcher Madeline Phillips impressed a lot of people along the way. The four-year starter was named the Northern Buckeye Conference’s Pitcher of the Year, and she then added first team All-Ohio honors in Division III.
“It spoke a lot to the respect that she got from other coaches,” Clouse said. “You don’t get that with numbers alone, but respect throughout her career. Other coaches saw her battle for four years on the mound and how tough she was to beat, even without a very strong offensive team. Five of our eight losses were by one run.”
Rival coaches both local and state-wide didn’t just pick Phillips’ name out of a hat. The 5-foot-7 right-hander paid her dues, to be sure, but she also went 14-8 with a 1.18 ERA, 212 strikeouts and 18 walks in 154.2 innings She also posted some serious numbers at the plate.
Phillips batted a school-record .600 this season, with 21 runs, 27 RBI, 10 stolen bases and one home run. Phillips, who hit over .500 last season, batted third in the Wildcats’ order.
“I just worked hard in the offseason, hitting off the tee,” Phillips said. “It was a lot of repetition, making sure my form is right. If you’re confident in the box, surprisingly you get a lot of hits. I worked with my dad (Lonnie). I’ve been working hard from eighth grade through now, when I realized this is what I want to do, go to college and play softball. I worked every winter to try to get better.”
Clouse pointed out that in addition to her batting average, runs and RBI totals, Phillips also drew 23 walks and had an on-base percentage north of .700.
“She’s a great hitter because she took what the pitchers gave her,” Clouse said. “She was able to hit the outside pitch, turn on the inside pitch and hit the ball to any part of the park. It wasn’t like people were coming at her. They tried to pitch around her.”
Woodmore finished 8-6 in the NBC and lost to Evergreen in the D-III sectional finals, but the ‘Cats improved on last year’s 8-13 (4-10 NBC) record. Phillips earned first team All-NBC and second team all-district honors as a junior. She said she was grateful to win the 2014 conference pitcher of the year award and receive all-state recognition.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” Phillips said. “It (All-Ohio) is always kind of a bigger goal, but I was just trying to do what the team needs me to do. If that award comes, great. If not, it’s not a big deal. I guess I don’t feel like I deserve anything. I just go out there and do my job and let the accolades come. I was just trying to work towards wins and getting better as a player. I think I did that, definitely.”
Phillips, who served as senior class president and graduated with a 3.8 GPA, also made first team All-NBC and second team all-district in volleyball last fall. She was a four-year starter in that sport as well.
“What I loved about her is how she handled herself all four years,” Clouse said. “She was so consistent. Never up, never down. No matter how well she played, she was solid as a rock. That level of consistency for four years is really unique. That’s pretty much her as a person. She’s very soft spoken and a leader by example.”
Phillips will play softball at Urbana (Ohio) University in the fall. The Blue Knights finished 28-21-1 and 16-11-1 in the Mountain East Conference this season. She is undecided on a major.
“I loved the school atmosphere and the softball program and what that program is building down there,” Phillips said. “I went to a camp there my sophomore year. Signing (last fall) was a huge relief. I don’t have to worry about it this summer; there’s no pressure. I can just go out there and do what I normally do.”