Hungry Bears set sights on league supremacy


By Ben Stroup - [email protected]



Olentangy Berlin’s Kali Bateman returns as the lone senior on a young squad looking to compete for the top spot in the OCC-Buckeye Division this spring.

Olentangy Berlin’s Kali Bateman returns as the lone senior on a young squad looking to compete for the top spot in the OCC-Buckeye Division this spring.


Gazette | File

The Olentangy Berlin softball team has made huge strides in recent years.

This season, thanks to a solid crew of returners and a team-first mentality, the Bears will look to continue their upward climb.

“We finally have several returners coming back from last year — year number two as a program — when we saw a lot of growth,” Berlin coach Jenna Haskins said. “I’m hoping to see the same this year as well. We have a great group of girls that will always put the team first and are willing to help their family out to be successful.”

Two of the returners, senior Kali Bateman and sophomore Ella Erwine, are expected to handle things in the circle.

“Both offer their own strengths in pitching,” Haskins said. “Ella and Kali both have been working on creating more movement, as well as increasing velocity. Kali does a great job leading while she is on the field — her position as a senior helps — but of course being a four-year varsity letter winner also contributes, and Ella has developed a new pitch during the offseason … I can see it as an asset to her arsenal to attack batters.”

Other returners include Izzie Wilson, a senior centerfielder who will be a force at the plate; Ava Kresak, who will play first base and contribute offensively somewhere near the top of the order; Jocelyn Franz, who is making the move from the outfield to a middle infield position; Payton Caldwell, who caught last year, but will probably see some time at third as well this time around; and Syd Davis, who will be a leader on the infield and near the top of the lineup.

​Others Haskins said will contribute include Addy Young, Addie Davis, Sheridan Paykoff and Elizabeth Sprecher. Young (catcher/third base) and Davis (outfield) are freshmen who offer depth in the field, Paykoff is a junior who is making the move to varsity after playing JV much of last season and Sprecher can play all over.

Sprecher isn’t alone, either. Most of the Bears are pretty versatile, which could turn out to be a strength when the pieces all fall into place.

“Defensively, we have multiple utility players, so figuring out where everyone fits to best help the team is key to our success this year,” Haskins said.

Another key, she said, will be getting better as the season goes on.

“We focus on getting one percent better at each practice, and every day is a new day,” Haskins said. “We are stronger this season, more than ever before, and we have versatile players that are willing to put everything on the line.”

Berlin was right in the mix for the league title a season ago. This year, Haskins said, shouldn’t be any different.

“Our league is very competitive, but Marysville will be the top team to attack,” she said. “We were able to beat them once, and could have beat them for the title last season. I expect our team to come back stronger from that tough loss against them last year and attack them early. Hilliard Darby is another program to watch out for … they are always competitive.”

The Bears are set to open the season Monday, April 4 against visiting Upper Arlington.

Olentangy Berlin’s Kali Bateman returns as the lone senior on a young squad looking to compete for the top spot in the OCC-Buckeye Division this spring.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2022/03/web1_berlin31-2.jpgOlentangy Berlin’s Kali Bateman returns as the lone senior on a young squad looking to compete for the top spot in the OCC-Buckeye Division this spring. Gazette | File

By Ben Stroup

[email protected]