Flyers hungry for success

J. Patrick Eaken

Veteran Lake softball coach Dave Rymers has seven letter winners returning from last year’s team that finished 8-17 overall and 5-9 in the Northern Buckeye Conference.
        “Our goal is to improve every day. This season will be about growth and moving forward. To be successful, we need to make the routine plays defensively, throw strikes and have productive at-bats,” Rymers said.
        “Our conference is extremely solid from top to bottom with tremendous hitters, superb pitchers and great coaches. Every game comes down to who executes.”
        Rymers believes this team has enough depth and desire to make a dent in the NBC race and compete with pre-season favorite Eastwood. Eastwood pitcher Ashley Hitchcock has already tossed perfect games against Rossford and Elmwood, but Rymers believes his team will be up to the task.
        “This team has a desire and a hunger to be successful,” Rymers said. “With every season comes a change to an individual's role in the team dynamic. Learning and understanding these new roles will take some time.”
        Lake’s returning letter winners include senior center fielder Cassidy Gladieux, senior first baseman Aubrie Kunkelman, junior pitcher/shortstop Tatum Miller, junior second baseman/shortstop Teri Miller, junior utility player Lily Armstrong, sophomore second baseman/pitcher/first baseman/designated hitter Kenzie Jackson and sophomore outfielder Elizabeth Cowell.
        Gladieux is a two-time honorable mention All-NBC outfielder, Jackson was honorable mention All-NBC at second base, and Miller was a second team All-NBC pitcher.
        Miller was also a second team Alan Miller Jewelers pitcher after going 7-14 with a 4.39 ERA. In 124.1 innings, she struck out 97 while giving up 147 hits and 78 earned runs.
        “Tatum Miller is developing from a ‘thrower’ into a pitcher. Miller gained experience and confidence as our primary pitcher last year,” Rymers said. “Kenzie Jackson returns with innings under her belt and freshman Mackenzie Mickens will also see time in the circle.”
        Rymers says top hitters Gladieux, Kunkelman, and Tatum Miller begin their third season as starters. Rymers believes his hitting and defense has improved, also.
        “Their experience at the plate should help them,” Rymers said. “Jackson had a solid freshman year and we are encouraged by her progress thus far.
        “We have Gladieux in center field, Tatum Miller, Teri Miller and Aubrie Kunkelman are solid infielders and Natalie Patrick is a very skilled defensive catcher. Kenzie Jackson has really improved her swing during the offseason and Elizabeth Cowell has improved as an outfielder.”
        The Flyers graduated Lake senior third baseman Kirsten Zenk, who is playing at Owens Community College. Last year, Zenk, a second team All-Press pick, batted .380 (27 for 71) with 20 runs, four home runs, 20 RBIs and six stolen bases. In his 12 years coaching, Rymers’ teams have gone 148-144.
        Many of his incoming varsity athletes are expected to fill the voids left by graduation of Zenk and two other top players.
        “We have five new additions that could all contribute. McKenna Encalado (So.) has taken over the role at third base for Kirsten Zink and is hitting in the middle of the lineup. Natalie Patrick (So.) has started the first games behind the plate. (Freshman) Abbie Rymers, Chelsea Wood, and Mackenzie Mickens will all see playing time throughout the year.”


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