Waite finishes 12-11, reaches title game

J. Patrick Eaken

Waite softball had just two seniors on its way to finishing over .500, and coach Lindsey Barton believes her program is gaining momentum.

The Indians finished 12-11 overall and 6-3 in the Toledo City League, reaching the City championship game, only to lose to Start, 16-2.

All three City League losses came to Start, including the City championship, but the Indians did well against Toledo Area Athletic Conference schools — beating Toledo Christian twice, and splitting with Cardinal Stritch and Emmanuel Christian.

“Overall, it was really nice and what helped lead to their success was the fact that they really worked well together and were very supportive of each other,” Barton said.

“All of them got along really well with each other and you can’t coach that. It makes a huge difference when they work well with each other and have camaraderie and stuff like that. The fact that they got along so well with each other definitely contributed to our success.”

The Indians will only lose their starting battery, pitcher Sierra Thompson and catcher Allie Rucki, to graduation, and were a “very young sophomore-heavy” team. 

A half dozen players earned Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press honorable mention honors, all earning the respect of 10 area coaches and getting votes. Three Indians were just a few votes from garnering second team honors, going up against a healthy contingent of talent from Division II state semifinalist Oak Harbor and Northern Buckeye Conference runner-up Eastwood.

Earning first team All-City honors are shortstop Janiyah Moye and first baseman Jake Morales, both juniors. Moye batted .382 (21-for-55) with four home runs, 20 runs, 17 RBIs and 17 stolen bases, and she will be the team’s pitcher next year after getting some experience in the circle this season.

“She had the highest fielding average. She made only a couple errors throughout the entire season because she was really, real strong defensively,” Barton said. “She did get hurt in the beginning of the season, her second game, and was out for a couple weeks before she got cleared again. But the fact that she was able to rebound from that and get average up batting wise over .300, I thought was a big accomplishment for her.”

Morales batted .362 (17-for-47) with 26 runs, 12 RBIs and six stolen bases.

“His bat really started to come around by the end of the season. When he gets ahold of it, he can really hit the ball,” Barton said.

Second team choices are Thompson and sophomore utility player Kayla Rogers, who not only played every infield position except first base, but also caught and played in the outfield.

Rogers batted .333 (9-for-27) with 15 runs, five RBIs and 15 stolen bases.

“She did not originally didn’t even start on varsity, but when Moye was hurt we pulled her up and then ended up keeping her for the rest of the season. She was a true utility player. I think she played every position but first and pitcher,” Barton said. 

 Thompson batted .303 (20-for-66) with nine runs, 19 RBIs and two stolen bases. In the circle, Thompson was 8-6 with 80 strikeouts and a 7.03 ERA in 76.2 innings.

“She was definitely our No. 1 go-to pitcher. Her consistency was there, her speed is pretty good, and she had a couple different pitches to work with, so she’s one who has worked really hard since her freshman year,” Barton said. “She, like most of our kids, had no experience when she got into high school. It is definitely going to be a huge asset that we will be losing going forward.”

Rucki, who was joined by Brianna Guajardo and Hailey Zervas as honorable mention All-City selections, batted .351 (20-for-57) with 11 runs, 15 RBIs and five SB.

The loss in the title game to Start was no surprise. The Spartans for the past few years have been going toe-to-toe with some of the top programs in the Toledo area, have solid bats and speed on the basepaths, and have several college commits. For Barton, that was no excuse.

“Our pitchers really struggled that game. I don’t know if it was nerves, or we played at Rogers with the gravel, and I know it’s tough pitching in the gravel, but regardless we’ve got to do better,” Barton said.

How do we know that Waite’s program is on the upswing? Despite a lack of competitive youth programs, many of the underclassmen are continuing to play this summer. Once they started playing the game, they fell in love with it, Barton said.

Moye and Morales are playing travel softball for the Northwest Ohio Lady Irish and others have found a summer home, too.

“The rest of the girls, including our JV team, are in a small summer league. This is the first time we did a summer league,” Barton said. “I found some of those other girls through the Lady Irish as well, but it’s just an open league with four other teams that we are playing doubleheaders once a week throughout the month of June.”

















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