Ashlee Donahoo started her head coaching career at Oak Harbor with a bang this spring.
The Rockets' first-year softball coach, an assistant under Amanda DeVaul and Tiffany Hernandez the past three seasons, guided the team to its first Sandusky Bay Conference title since 2002.
"I was excited going into the season because I knew what great potential we had to be a very competitive team this year," Donahoo said. "We knew that if we could put everything together we would have a great year, and we did."
Oak Harbor finished 17-4 and 12-2 in the SBC after losing to Lake to kick off the 2009 season. The Rockets lost to conference rival Clyde in the Division II district semifinals.
"It was a great season and I am so proud of the girls," Donahoo said. "They worked hard and came through, especially in some close games. We didn't score many runs this year, but they made things happen and scored when we needed to. We rode Liz the entire way. We knew she would take control in games and she was very dominating this year."
Senior pitcher Liz Weber had 204 strikeouts in 145 innings and allowed only 11 extra-base hits all season. The first-team All-SBC pitcher, who was named the conference's most outstanding player, will play softball at West Liberty State College in West Virginia next year.
"When you have a pitcher like Liz, you know she is going to keep you in every game and it's up to the offense to score the needed runs," Donahoo said. "Liz works year round on her pitching and she earned her honors."
In addition to Weber, the Rockets will have to replace the graduated Melissa Florio, a center fielder, and right fielder Morgan Price. Donahoo said Tori Havener is the likely candidate to replace Weber on the mound next season.
Havener, a valuable utility player this season, was one of several players who moved up from last year's undefeated junior varsity team to play key roles in Oak Harbor's 2009 SBC championship.
Junior catcher Katie Perry, sophomore second baseman Dayna Setzler, junior first baseman Abby Zurvalec, junior left fielder Lawren Adams and junior designated player Jenna Diekman all contributed to Oak Harbor's success.
Shortstop Julia Konieczny, who will be a junior next year, and senior third baseman Courtney Atwater will return to starting roles in 2010.
Konieczny, who batted .377, was the Rockets' top hitter this season.
"She had only one strikeout all season and she has four strikeouts so far in her varsity career," Donahoo said. "She is the best contact hitter I have ever seen. She hits the ball as hard as I've ever seen. She's just an all-around athlete."
Most of Oak Harbor's players will play in a summer league or play on travel teams this off season, Donahoo said.
"We do have a summer league, but it's just to play. It's not competitive," the coach said. "It's for me to see the jayvee girls coming up to see what they can do. We're in the Northern Ohio Girls Softball League, mostly with SBC teams and a couple other teams. We play Wednesday night doubleheaders through the end of July."