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Firestone softball team taking aim at City Series title

3/20/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

WEST AKRON — Last year, the Firestone High School softball team finished in second place in the City Series. This year, head coach Bruce Clough said he has an experienced team that has the ability to take home the title.

“Realistically, I think we can beat Ellet this year,” the coach said. “I think the kids that I have this year have seen them enough and can do it. We have six girls who were varsity starters coming back that have pretty good experience. I have two seniors that played last year and came back, and I have another senior, Samantha Lewis, who skipped a year that has come back.”

Lewis will start at first base for the team this season, Clough said.

“She was in the drama courses last year and had to leave the team for a year to dedicate her time to that,” the coach stated. “She has good fielding experience and ability and is a quality batter. She has a good softball head on her shoulders.”

According to Clough, returning senior Meredith Eichenlaub will play shortstop but has the ability to play all over the field.

“She could play any infield position, if she wanted to, and she could play any outfield position,” he said. “We expect her to play outfield in college. A couple of schools have been looking at her, and they’ve all made mention of her speed and her great hands. She also has a fantastic arm. She was our No. 1 batter last year, and I expect the same thing.”

The other returning senior for Firestone is Kristin Skeans, who pitches and plays second base.

“Kristin would rather play second, but we’ve been using her as a pitcher because her skill set is pretty good,” Clough said. “She’ll be our starting pitcher, and then her backup is junior Alexis Lee. They will just flip flop positions. When one of them is pitching, the other will play second. Both are very good in terms of skills on the field — in terms of fielding and understanding the game and making good decisions on plays. They both have good speed. Pitching-wise, Kristen probably has a little bit better speed than Alexis, but Alexis has more variety of pitches.”

Other key players on this year’s squad include junior third baseman Madi Wellendorf and junior catcher Montana Hollis.

“Madi was our power hitter and our RBI leader last year. She was catching for us last year, but she started getting beaten up pretty good and got some injuries, so we had to move her. When we did that, Montana Hollis moved into that spot,” the coach said. “Montana is a leader for us. She’s always hustling. She has a great arm and a great attitude behind the plate.”

An underclassmen to keep an eye on, Clough said, is sophomore outfielder Rachel Moeller.

“We’re looking forward to her starting this year in the outfield,” he said. “We’re hoping her bat will continue to be as productive for us this year as it was last year.”

Last year, Firestone finished 13-15 overall and 10-2 in the City Series. The season is scheduled to begin with a doubleheader at home March 31 at noon and 2 p.m. against St. Thomas Aquinas High School.

“I’m looking to see marked improvement from last year,” Clough said. “I’m also looking forward to beating more teams outside the City than we did last year. That’s the stepping stone to the next level of what we need to be at. I also want to see us be more competitive in the sectionals and work from there. I think we can do that. I don’t think these are nonrealistic goals. If we can keep everybody healthy, I think we can definitely compete in the City and surprise some teams outside the City.”

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