The best way to improve, at anything, is to turn weaknesses into strengths.
That’s exactly what the 2022 edition of Big Walnut softball is out to do this spring. Defense was not a strength last year, and it cost the Golden Eagles in more than a few games.
They committed six errors in their tourney exit against host Dublin Coffman. Starting pitcher Abigail Weiss, who will be a key part of this year’s team, gave up 12 runs in the loss to the Shamrocks, but, thanks to the errors, only four of those runs were of the earned variety.
The defensive miscues plagued BW late in the regular season as well. The Eagles committed three or more in each of their final three regular-season games — league losses to Westerville North, Dublin Scioto and Canal Winchester.
This year, eliminating as many errors as possible is a must … and Big Walnut has prioritized that side of the ball during the offseason.
“Our strength will be our defense,” Big Walnut coach Jerry Hatcher said. “We are solid at all positions and have been working very hard on reps and situations. Like all teams in central Ohio, we just need to get at it.”
The Eagles had two scrimmages rained out and Monday’s non-league opener at Bishop Watterson was postponed due to the weather as well.
Weiss will return to her spot in the circle.
“Abigail is our returning pitcher and our team leader. She has been working hard and we are counting on her to be our defensive leader as well,” Hatcher said.
Other returning starters include the Eagles’ three senior outfielders — Jordan Walters, Janel Hayes and Liz Long. Sophomore Quinn Kuhlman is also back in the fold, as is catcher Hayley Greathouse, third baseman Elaine Truax, second baseman Marley Nilsen and first baseman Anna Lott.
Junior Tara Shuster, sophomore Olivia Jenkins and freshman Laney Soulle will add pitching depth, Hatcher said.
Offensively, the Eagles have plenty to offer at the plate.
“Our offensive leaders will be Jordan and Abigail,” Hatcher said. “They both will hit for power and consistency. Speed will be an asset as well. We have several girls that can really run. Quinn, Jordan, Janel, Marley and Elaine all can run.”
BigWalnut, which finished 7-16 last season, will look to move up the league standings this spring, but Hatcher knows it won’t be easy.
“Our league is very tough,” he said. “Delaware, Westerville South and North will probably be the teams to beat. We are looking forward to the challenge to be competitive in our league.”