Eagles girls softball in the midst of another great season

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

At 18-2 and 7-1 in the Northern Buckeye Conference, the Eastwood girls softball team is again playing at a high level.
The Eagles find themselves in the driver’s seat for another league title and are seeded second in the Division III Holland District.
That’s because of the work of the entire unit, which is led by Joe Wyant, who is now in his 16th season coaching the team.
Eastwood is one of Northwest Ohio’s top programs, but something feels different about this year’s group. Is it the dominance, the clutch hitting, the stellar pitching?
Led by catcher Delaney Maynard and pitcher Cassi Kieper, Eastwood is making it look easy, but it knows how to win the close games, too.
Maynard, who was an all-Ohioan last year and has committed to continue her career at Ashland University, is hitting a whopping .627, with nine home runs and 46 RBIs. As for Kieper, she is 18-2 with a 1.71 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 98 innings of work.
The coach talked about what his two best players bring to the table.
“Delaney has got power; she’s got a chance to beat the school record for RBIs,” said Wyant. “She’s really quick and can run – she’s a great baserunner.
“Cassi is very consistent; we get the same out of her all year. We had one game where she struggled, that was early on, but that was it. Other than that, she’s been really consistent.”
But it hasn’t been just those two. Left fielder Lilly Escobedo is hitting .520 with 18 RBIs, 3B MacKenzie Hady sports a .448 average with 23 RBIs, CF and lead-off hitter Jessyca Smith is hitting .418 with eight RBIs and 34 runs, SS Ady Bowe is hitting .404 with seven RBIs and 28 runs and 2B Grace Kingery is hitting .360 with 20 RBIs. The rest of the lineup features Kieper, 1B Caitlin Stiner and RF Katie Oestrich.
“We had a good nucleus back – seven starters back,” said Wyant. “We lost our first baseman and third baseman; those were the only two people we lost.
“I think we’re playing good ball. We’ve definitely gotten better because of some of the youth, and they’ve stepped up and made us into a solid team.”
The lone blemishes on the season were losses to Elmwood and Bowling Green.
“The loss to Elmwood was a good loss,” Wyant said. “Bowling Green, that was a tough loss (because) we had our chances.”
The Eagles avenged the loss to the Royals last week, defeating them, 7-4, in 13 innings. Eastwood rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the fourth inning, starting the comeback on a home run by Maynard and got two more runs to tie the score before adding a run in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. In the top of the 13th, with the score tied, 4-4, Hady hit a triple to right field to score Maynard and Bowe, and Hady came home on a fielder’s choice by Kieper.
Eight of Eastwood’s nine hits went for extra bases. Hady went 2-for-6 with a double and three RBIs, Smith had two hits, including a double, and Maynard had two hits, including a double and scored twice while drawing two walks.
Elmwood pitcher Maddie Milligan came into the game with a 6-2 record and a 1.45 ERA.
“They have a good team,” Wyant said of the Royals. “The best part is we were down 3-0 going into the fourth inning and came back and got three runs and another run in the next inning. Elmwood tied it up in the seventh inning, it was back and forth. Delaney hit a solo HR in the top of the fourth, that got us going. We played really good defense.
“I honestly believe we are the best team. If we win the league, I can’t say. I think we’re the best team 1-9 in our league,” he said.
Maynard talked about this team, which is on a mission to win the NBC and make a run in the tournament, something the program has done many times under Wyant’s guidance.
“Because we’re just playing fun, relaxed, not playing tense, I think that’s what is leading to our success,” Maynard said. “I think our lineup is really good. I played travel ball with Jessica, I’ve played with Lilly since junior high, and Kenzie, who’s just a freshman, she’s had some big-time hits for us this year. Cassi’s been great. Every year, she’s just been great and continues to get better. I love catching for her. I think she’s a great pitcher.
“I love to be involved in every play (playing catcher), just to have control, and I like being a leader. Hitting is something I enjoy. I don’t have to think much, it’s just something I like to do. It comes easy, and I really enjoy it,” she said.
Maynard was the NBC Player of the Year and the Alan Miller Jewelers’ Offensive POY last season. She hit .524 (55-for-105) with 40 runs, 16 doubles, two triples, six home runs, seven stolen bases and a .612 on-base percentage.
In a career that included stops at Lakota and Oak Harbor, Wyant has won over 400 games, seven district titles and nine league championships.


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association