The Press Newspaper
Eastwood’s softball team had just lost two games in a row – its first losses of the season – but coach Joe Wyant wasn’t too concerned.
The Eagles, after all, have plenty of chances to right the ship this week, beginning with a home game Wednesday against Rossford. Eastwood then plays Fostoria on Friday and finishes the week with a doubleheader against Liberty-Benton on Saturday.
“We have to get back on the winning track after losing two one-run ballgames,” Wyant said. “I like what I’ve seen, but there are seven good teams in our league and any one of those teams could beat anybody.”
Through Tuesday the Eagles were 14-2 and 3-2 in the Northern Buckeye Conference following a 4-3 loss to Elmwood on Monday and a 2-1 loss to Lake last Wednesday. Eastwood’s NBC victories have come against Woodmore, Fostoria and Otsego.
Wyant’s squad has shown good balance on offense (.363 team batting average), defense and on the mound this season. The Eagles “showcased” all three aspects two weeks ago when they won their pool by going 4-0 at the Showcase Classic tournament in Akron, beating such bigger schools as Medina, Akron Hoban and Akron Ellet.
Eastwood registered a 5-2 win over Medina, which reached the Division I final four last season, and beat Hoban, a regional finalist last season, 5-1. The Eagles defeated Ellet 1-0.
“We were excited going down there,” Wyant said. “We didn’t know if we were going to be 1-3 or 4-0. Our kids played solid defense and we hit the ball well. We were playing really well - 14-0 and doing really well - but the last two games we just haven’t hit.”
The Eagles led 3-1 against NBC-leading Elmwood (3-0) before the Royals scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh for the victory.
Senior right-hander Whitney Foster, a second-year starter, is 11-2 on the mound with a 1.04 ERA. She has 73 strikeouts and just 13 walks in 81 innings.
“Whitney’s been very solid,” Wyant said. “She’s pitching well; she doesn’t walk many. She’s been really solid all year.”
Eastwood’s No. 2 pitcher, junior righty Samantha Shirling, is 3-0 with a 1.21 ERA. Shirling, who was on the junior varsity team last season, earned the win against Medina by going 6 1/3 innings and giving up just two earned runs. Foster earned the save.
“As of right now, Samantha will probably be the starter next season,” Wyant said. “She’s a very good pitcher. She’s worked very hard to get where she’s at. She’s vastly improved to where she was, with her speed, accuracy and work ethic.”
Freshman shortstop Mackenzie Albright is the Eagles’ leading hitter, batting .440 with 19 runs and one home run from her leadoff position.
“She’s been really solid,” Wyant said. “Her attitude, she’s a competitor. She wants to win, she wants to be better. I didn’t know what to expect before the season. I saw her travel team and she’s better than I was expecting her to be. She’s fitting right in and doing a nice, solid job. She’s got good speed and she’s got some power.”
Junior catcher Anna Rahrig is hitting .432 with 10 RBI and two home runs. Rahrig was a designated hitter a year ago.
“She’s got a really good arm,” Wyant said. “I moved her to catcher because of her arm. I just needed her to play instead of DH. She’s been working to be a catcher the last two years. We stuck her in there and she’s done a real solid job catching.”
Ally Gabel, a senior center fielder, is batting .420 with 19 runs and nine doubles. Gabel was a first-team all-district selection in 2012.
“She does a great job getting on base,” Wyant said. “Her on-base (percentage) is almost .600. She gets a lot of walks and does a lot of the little things well. This is her third year playing center field.”
Junior third baseman Cassidy Rolf, a three-year starter, is hitting .404 and leads the team with 20 runs scored, with 19 RBI and three home runs. Rolf was a first-team all-district selection as a sophomore.
“She’s a great hitter,” Wyant said. “She’s very strong and hits with power. Defensively, she’s really improved this year. She’s got an arm that is by far the best on our team.”