Future looks bright for the Eagles girls softball program

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

This past season wasn’t one of those quintessential great girls softball teams at Eastwood, but the Eagles know that they reached some worthy achievements and have the core built for a strong future.
Eastwood finished 17-11 and 8-6 in the Northern Buckeye Conference, tied for third in the league, and won a Division III sectional title before falling to Otsego, 3-0, in a district semifinal. (The Eagles beat the Knights both times in the regular season but didn’t have the same luck in the postseason.)
Those three returning starters were left fielder Lilly Escobedo, one of the most decorated players in program history, shortstop Adyson Bowe, who was probably the best player on the team, and pitcher Cassi Kieper, who had a successful career and will continue her career at Siena Heights University in Michigan.
Escobedo, who was a first-team selection in Division III, hit .536 to go with three doubles and 27 RBIs; Bowe hit .495 and hit seven home runs, 11 doubles, two triples, scored 46 runs and drove in 34 runs while stealing 32 bases, a league record, and Kieper went 17-11 with a 2.36 ERA and 273 strikeouts in 175 innings of work. She had 80 career victories and struck out 915 batters in four seasons.
Bowe earned honorable-mention distinction in Division III.
It was a tough start to the season, one that saw Eastwood, which returned only three starters, play in Tennessee while starting 0-4 and coming home and, for the most part, righting the ship.
“I think we had two seasons (this year). We started off slow, and we were inexperienced and young,” said Eastwood coach Joe Wyant. “I only had three starters back, and Mackenzie Hady, who batted about .430 last season, had surgery on her labrum and didn’t play.
“We were a little shell-shocked (after the slow start). We lost six league games after those first four losses. I think the league was as good as it’s been, top to bottom, after adding Oak Harbor and Maumee, and we lost the district tournament game to Otsego. We beat them twice in the regular season; one was a come-from-behind win, and we (also) beat them, 5-2. We had two seasons, but we got better (in the latter one).”
Wyant, who has built one of Northwest Ohio’s best programs in 17 years, counts victories over Clyde, Mansfield Madison, Maumee (a district champion) and both wins over Otsego as the highlights of the season.
Second baseman Karly Wasserman, who finished the season hitting .355 with seven doubles and 20 RBIs, raised her batting average 50 points during the latter half of the season, while the third baseman, MaKenzie Grover, hit .290 and drove in 17 runs. Freshman Maddie Hartman, who played catcher, hit .259 with three home runs, five doubles and 21 RBIs.
“She did a really good job defensively,” Wyant said of Hartman. “I worried about putting a freshman behind home plate, but she did a really good job catching. She’s going to be a really good hitter.”
Dani Black was the designated player, Cynthia Casdorph played first base, Jenna Lubash was a flex player that played right field and the center fielder was Makayla Hady.
“Makayla tracked down a lot of balls and made some diving catches,” Wyant said. “She’s going to be really good.”
The two utility players were Grace Meter and Jordan Jensen.
“Grace Meter was the main backup infielder –– she played a little bit of everything. She’s a really good athlete,” said Wyant. “Jordan Jensen was always a track athlete, but she came out for the softball team this year. She’s a backup outfielder, a pinch hitter, and she batted .295 on the season. She’ll be fine next year; she just hadn’t played for about three years.
Kieper, Escobedo and Black were the only graduating seniors.
The future looks bright for the Eagles.
“I think the program is in good shape,” said Wyant. “This wasn’t one of the best teams (I’ve coached), but it’s not one of the worst teams in my 17 years. They gave me all they had, and that’s all you can ask for.”


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