Manchester softball team hoping to keep PAC-7 winning
NEW FRANKLIN — Manchester High School softball head coach Jim Morehart described this year’s team as “young but experienced.”
The coach said his team lost three seniors to graduation but noted he has “a lot of experience coming back.”
“We don’t have any seniors, so we’re very young,” he said. “But we have eight returning lettermen from last year. On varsity, we have four freshmen, two sophomores and seven juniors.”
Last year, the team finished with a 22-5 overall record and a perfect 14-0 mark in the Principals Athletic Conference (PAC-7).
“For two years, we’ve been undefeated in the PAC,” Morehart said. “For the past two years, we’re 27-0 in the PAC. We’d love to sweep the PAC again this year, but that’s hard to do no matter what league you’re in. Consistently winning in a league like that has been rewarding. I think we have the talent to do it, but you still have to come to play every day.”
And outside of the league, the coach said, Manchester will face plenty of challenges this season.
“We’ve loaded up our schedule quite a bit this year,” he stated. “We play North Canton Hoover, we play Poland, we play Jackson in a doubleheader, we play Wadsworth and we have a double header with Ellet — so we play a lot of very strong programs. We want to make our team better. We can be competitive with these teams, and the only way to get more seasoned for the tournament is to play better teams, and I think we have the talent to do that.”
Morehart said he likes what he has seen from his team so far in the preseason.
“The kids have been working hard, and I think we’re coming along,” he said. “I think our pitching will be decent. I think our hitting should be pretty good. We hit the ball well last year and these kids are a year older. Our best hitters are back, and we have some good hitters coming in.”
Among the players expected to anchor the batting lineup are juniors Courtney Roth, Brooke Horning and Kate Mash.
“Courtney last year ended up with a .506 batting average in 27 games. She had 28 RBIs, eight doubles, a triple and a home run,” Morehart said. “Brooke Horning hit .441, with seven doubles, one triple and 17 RBIs. And Kate Mash hit .436, with 19 doubles, three triples, three home runs and 26 RBIs — and that’s from our lead-off spot.”
As for pitching, Morehart said two pitchers will be counted on to primarily carry the load: Horning and Jenna Williams.
“Brooke pitched for us last year and did a nice job. She was 2-2 with a 1.56 ERA, and she threw a two-hitter against Triway. She’ll probably go into the No. 1 spot to start the season,” the coach said. “Jenna is experienced in the way of travel ball, but you never know with a freshman. She seems like she’s throwing the ball well. She has a variety of pitches, and we’ve been pretty impressed with her as a pitcher so far. I think she’ll do well.”
Other returning players expected to make an impact this season include juniors Chelsea Chappell, Rachel Mincham and Haylee Zwick and sophomores Kaylee Miller and Hailey Brown.
“Chappell is a catcher and Mincham and Zwick are outfielders. We are looking for good seasons from all three returning juniors,” the coach said. “Miller is a catcher who had a good strong year last year hitting .381 with 10 doubles and 28 RBIs. And Brown is an outfielder who is pretty fast. She does a lot of running for us.”
Manchester’s regular season will begin April 1 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“Our first game will be on the Monday after Easter,” Morehart said. “I’m not sure who we’re playing yet. We’re in the Grand Strand [Softball Classic] down there. We’ll play five games, Monday through Friday, to get our regular season started.”
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