The Press Newspaper
In a season filled with high expectations, the Gibsonburg softball team has answered the call.
After winning back-to-back league titles and featuring a team that returned six starters, Gibsonburg started the season 7-3 overall and 4-0 in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference.
Senior pitcher Alyssa Escobedo is putting up solid numbers both in the circle and at the plate. She has a 5-2 record with an 0.58 ERA to go with 34 strikeouts in 41 innings and is hitting .375 with eight RBIs and 10 runs out of the No. 3 spot in the lineup.
Leadoff hitter Elena Mancha sets the table at the top of the lineup. The senior catcher is part of a balanced quartet of hitters who get it started for Gibsonburg. She leads the team with a .433 batting average with seven RBIs and is tied with Escobedo with a team-high 10 runs.
Right fielder Allie Teeple is batting .400 with nine RBIs and eight runs and cleanup hitter Filomena Mendoza has a .346 average and is tied with Teeple for a team-high nine RBIs and eight runs.
The infield features shortstop Shylee Smeltz, first baseman Abby Cantrell, second baseman Lyndsey Perales and third baseman Sam Hannigan.
“As a whole, we are pleased,” coach Marty Brown said. “Our goal was to go out, win some games and we feel that we’ve been competitive in some of the games thus far.”
Brown is being rather modest at this early point in the season.
The Bears have dominated league play and defeated some big time opposition, like their 3-2 win over an Edison team that is ranked seventh in Division II, and Gibsonburg routed Lakota, 9-0. The three losses also came against three quality opponents, like Bucyrus (3-0), Ottawa-Glandorf (5-3), and a New Riegel (2-1) team that is currently ranked second in D-IV.
In the victory over the Chargers, center fielder Marisa Alvarado drove in the tying and go-ahead runs and pitcher Samantha DeAnda (2-1, 1.24 ERA) got the win. DeAnda has provided consistency filling in for Escobedo.
“It was a great contest between two equally-matched teams,” Brown said. “We were down 2-0 and came back. Marissa Alvarado singled to drive in two runs and DeAnda did a fantastic job to keep them from scoring anymore runs, including getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh inning.”
The Golden Bears, which have also won back-to-back sectional titles to go with their league trophies,, is filled with experience. Gibsonburg features eight seniors — Escobedo, Alvarado, Mancha, Mendoza, Hannigan, Brooke Reed, Abby Roberts and Shelby Fisher.
Brown, who is in his first year coaching the team, says the club’s experience and camaraderie is carrying them.
“The fact that the six returning starters have varsity action under their belt allows them to play more relaxed and enjoy the game,” said Brown. “The majority of them have been playing with one another for several years. I don’t feel that we have one or two specific leaders. Our team plays as a whole and leans on one another as needed.”
If the Bears are to finish as strong as they started, it will likely start with Escobedo. As the team’s No. 1 pitcher and one of its top hitters, she is heavily relied upon by her teammates.
“As a starter, she’s been very confident on the mound,” Brown said of Escobedo. “She knows she can throw almost anytime because she has a good defense behind her on the field. Are there going to be errors? Yes, but mostly we can limit our errors and our mistakes.”
The upcoming schedule for Gibsonburg features non-conference games with Lake, Genoa and Oak Harbor as well as a conference game with Cardinal Stritch Catholic, which is the biggest hurdle standing in their way of winning a third straight TAAC championship.
“We are doing well in league play,” Brown said, “and hope to carry that on throughout the season and finish strong into tournament play.”