Wildcats’ veteran ballplayers finding ways to win

J. Patrick Eaken

Woodmore softball may be chasing Eastwood for a Northern Buckeye Conference championship, but the Wildcats began the season more than experienced with 11 letter winners returning.
        “Our strength is our experience. We are two deep at every position.  I have many players who can play multiple positions,” said second-year coach Scott Smith, whose team was 12-13 last year. “A weakness is getting over the hump and finding ways to win games.” 
        Even though softball has to be considered one of the NBC’s premier sports, the Wildcats had some success last year and planned to keep that going. The Wildcats were 6-8 in the NBC last year.
        “We want to be in the top three of the NBC.  Last year we were fourth. We want to keep improving,” Smith said. “Our league is very strong. Most of the teams have their pitcher from last year returning and they all seem to have a lot of good players back.”
        Early in the NBC schedule, the Wildcats are right where they are supposed to be — sitting in the upper half of the league after winning three of their first five games. They are 10-5 overall.
        “Our season has been going well for us.  Our offense has been strong all year,” Smith said.
        Top seniors on this year’s team include centerfielder Katelynn Marshall, third baseman Kayla Bosh, second baseman Kennedy Bringman, left fielder Maddie Thatcher, pitcher Delany Hablitzel and outfielder Makayla Throop.
        Juniors include pitcher Sydni Buhrow, catcher Macie Wellons, shortstop Lizzy Cook and right fielder Maddion Strickland and returning at first base is sophomore Brooke Allen.
        Buhrow was a second team All-NBC utility player after batting .384 with nine doubles and having a 10-9 record pitching. Allen was honorable mention All-NBC after breaking the school’s single season home run record with five, and Marshall and Wellons were also HM All-NBC.
        At the plate, Smith was expecting Marshall, Buhrow, Wellons and Allen to lead the way again.
        “They all hit well last year and I look for them to be even better this year,” Smith said. “Our team batting average is .346 and I currently have seven girls batting over .345.”
        Allen has responded well, batting .489 with 12 runs, three home runs, seven doubles, 18 RBIs and three stolen bases. Buhrow is hitting .435 with 15 runs, four doubles, nine RBIs and nine SB. Wellons is hitting .378 with 20 runs, two homers, two triples, 13 RBIs and four SB. Marshall follows at .373 with 17 runs, two homers, two triples, 14 RBIs and six SB.
        Bosh has also proven to be a formidable force at the plate, batting .433 with five runs, six RBIs and five SB. So is Thatcher, batting .385, and Grace McCarthy at .345.
        In the circle, Buhrow returns and she is joined by Hablitzel.
        “They will share time on the mound.  Both have experience and I believe they will have a better year this year,” Smith said.
        Buhrow is 7-2 with a 3.74 ERA with 51 strikeouts. Hablitzel is 3-3 with a 4.65 ERA and 17 strikeouts.
        Another top element of Woodmore’s defense is its infield, which includes Bosh at third, LIzzy Cook at shortstop, Bringman at second and Allen at first.
        “My infield is solid, led by Kayla Bosh at third base. She is our vocal leader,” Smith said. “They all have experience and have worked hard at improving their fielding.
        “My most improved returning players are Lizzy Cook at SS, she struggled last season, but this year she really looks good in the field and at the plate.
        “A sleeper is Maddion Strickland — she is a slap hitter who finds a way to get on base. Also, Autumn Foos and Grace McCarthy are our first year varsity players who will see some playing time.”  


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