EATON — Eaton’s softball team, under new leadership a season ago, finished in the middle of the Southwestern Buckeye League’s Southwest Division. They were 6-6 in conference and 8-16 overall.
It was an upgrade from the season before, where the Eagles only won one conference game. Perhaps that’s because head coach Maggie Neanen also has high expectations out of her team.
“My expectations for this season, like last season, are high. We will be starting four freshmen so we will be young but those freshman carry themselves like upperclassmen and it helps they all played travel ball. I expect us to be in every game and compete every play,” she said. “We have been working in the off season to be physically tough and working even more on being mentally tough. We believe mental toughness is a big key in the game of softball.
Neanen said the goal is always to compete for a championship and to take Eaton softball to a level it has never been before.
It will be an uphill battle though as they lost big bats from Jordyn Worley, Hailey Napier, and Tayler Roell, all whom graduated. But they return three seniors – pitcher Meghan Puckett, shortstop Madison Couch, and outfielder Jayna Lee. Junior first baseman Grace Miller also returns. The four freshmen expected to start are Annika Gels (third base), Becca Mowen (catcher), Logan Unger (second base) and Emily Dungan (outfield). Rounding out the roster are seniors Erica Heiser and Claire Gething, juniors Stacia Weathington and Kathryn Madewell and sophomore Bailee Worley.
“We need the younger players who don’t have the varsity game experience to step up and to play at the level it is going to take to win ball games,” said Neanen. “Our seniors and upper classmen need to hold everyone accountable and play like every game is their last. If we do all these things, we will achieve all the goals we have set out to accomplish this season. I am very excited to get going especially with the mix of experience and youth we have this year.”
Neanen wants her team to limit errors and giving the other team ‘free bases’, two things that cost them several games last season. She added that if they play a tight defense all season, their offense can keep them in every game.
Their focus, Neanen said, is being the first team to get 21 outs.
Eaton (1-1) opened its season on Saturday, March 26, with a split against Ansonia. Eaton took the first game 9-4 and dropped the second, 5-3. The Eagles will visit Dixie on Wednesday, March 30, beginning at 5 p.m. then travel to Coldwater on Saturday, April 2, for a double-header beginning at noon.
Reach Jeremy Erskine at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH.