Experienced Braves look to defend OCC crown

By Ben Stroup

March 24, 2014

The Olentangy softball team had quite a 2013 campaign — a season capped by its first outright OCC-Capital Division championship in nine years.

The Braves, who finished 13-1 in the league and 19-9 overall, left some goals on the table, though, falling in the second round of the district tournament.

With an experienced group back in the fold, second-year head coach Alan Tharp said pushing further into the postseason tourney is a priority.

“We have a great group of kids,” he said, “and they all get along really well together. Led by five seniors, we have a lot of experience.”

Senior leaders include Hailey Wilson, Brooke Ring, Sam Rinehart, Morgan Thornberry and Emily Clark. Wilson, who has signed with Cal-U (Pa.), returns as the team’s ace pitcher (19-5 last season) while Ring will anchor the infield from her familiar second-base spot.

Other returning letter winners include junior shortstop Missy Lee, junior third baseman Sierra Stults, junior first baseman Lindsay Abramowitz, junior center fielder Jessy Lowery, junior catcher Emily Hoffman, sophomore designated player Ashley Post and sophomore outfielder Maddie Edwards.

Sophomore pitcher Kendra Madaris is also back after seeing some time last spring, while freshman Ryan Velazquez will likely log some innings, too.

Tharp said the pieces are in place, his group just needs to focus on its fielding in order to repeat as league champs and extend its stay in the postseason.

“We want to continue to improve our defensive game,” the coach said. “Last season we finished with a .968 fielding percentage, which was a huge improvement from the prior season (.875 fielding percentage). Of course, we’ll need to score some runs, and we’re on the right track to doing so. We are excited about the 2014 season.”