To show how good the prep softball is on this side of Toledo, Eastwood was playing in the Division III state tournament over the weekend and yet the Eagles did not even win their league.
The Eagle’s success this year, taking a 29-3 record into the state semifinal, is enough to earn Coach Joe Wyant Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Coach of the Year honors.
Of course, the Eagles did take two of three from the league champion Elmwood Royals, including a 5-2 district final win.
|Clay junior Brooke Gallaher, Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press
Pitcher of the Year. (Press photo by Harold Hamilton/
“We split with them during the regular season — they beat us the first game, we beat them the second game,” Wyant said. “It wasn’t redemption, but it made up for not winning the league, I guess. It helped, because they beat us by one game in the league — they had two losses and we had three. It helps that way. In our minds, we think we are as good or better than they are, but we lost a few games.”
Eastwood junior catcher Anna Rahrig added, “Elmwood is always such a great team and we always look forward to playing them. Of course, it was good to get the win, but they are such a great team and we respect them so much. We had a great season, so either way, so we did well with three losses in the league.”
But to at least one player, winning the rubber match was redemption.
“It was definitely redemption. It always feels good to play against Elmwood and it was good going into regionals,” senior Emily Helm said.
Joining Wyant as Co-Coaches of the Year are two veterans who did win league titles, Clay’s Brenda Radabaugh and Gibsonburg’s Kyle Leatherman.
All of the players earning the top individual awards represent those three teams. Clay pitcher Brooke Gallaher is Pitcher of the Year, Clay outfielder Honnah Susor is Co-Player of the Year, sharing the honor with Gibsonburg second baseman Filomena Mendoza. All three are juniors and will be back next year to put a scare into league opposition one more season.
Eastwood senior Alena Gabel gets The Press’ big stick award, Offensive Player of the Year. All awards and All-Press team honors are taken directly from the coaches’ league voting. All the top awardees will get plaques from Alan Miller Jewelers, and team selections will get certificates.
No. 6 ranked Clay finished 26-4, losing a D-I regional final to No. 3 ranked Elyria (25-5), 4-1, but winning their ninth league titles (3 GLL; 4 TCL; 2 TRAC) under Radabaugh (413-153) along with their eighth sectional and third district championship.
Gallaher, a first team TRAC selection two years in a row, finished 16-3 with a 1.32 ERA. She pitched 122 innings and her strikeout-to-walk ratio is 130 to 41, A three-year varsity starter, she has a no-hitter, a one-hitter, and two shutouts this season. At the plate, she batted .422 with eight doubles, 34 RBIs, and six stolen bases.
“She is a big reason that we have enjoyed success this season,” Radabaugh said. “We rely on her to pitch all of our big games. Brooke hits in the number three spot in our line-up. She leads our team in doubles and RBI and is second in singles.”
Susor led the team with a .566 batting average (56-for-99) with five doubles, three triples, three home runs, 21 RBIs, and 28 stolen bases. Only teammate Jamie Miller had more homers (4).
“Honnah is a very gifted athlete who has been blessed with speed and strength,” Radabaugh said. “She is our lead-off batter and is a triple threat. She is equally good at getting hits with a slap, a drag bunt, or swinging away.
“Honnah's swing has improved and she is hitting with more power than ever. She leads our team in hits, runs scored (51), stolen bases, batting average, and on base percentage (.614). Honnah is a outstanding outfielder with a very strong arm. She has five assists from centerfield. She has been a great role model for our young outfielders.”
Leatherman closes out his coaching career at Gibsonburg with a Toledo Area Athletic Conference title. He is moving on to become the middle school principal at Bluffton. After converting from summer college baseball coach to softball, his Golden Bears rewarded him this year.
Mendoza player her part, batting .480 (49-for-102) with 14 doubles, three triples, three home runs, 48 RBIs, and a team-leading slugging percentage of .765.
“We wanted her at the plate to drive runs in. She broke the school record for RBI in a season,” Leatherman said. “Filomena was very disciplined at the plate and looked for her pitch to drive. She was a tremendous threat to opposing pitchers because she could hit for power and average and could sacrifice bunt when absolutely needed. Filomena worked hard in the off-season which prepared her for the success she had during the season.”