CEDARVILLE — The juniors were almost in a state of shock while the freshman were in their comfort zone as the first game of the season wrapped at Catholic Central on March 27.
Cedarville was up 10-3 heading into the final inning. It was the first time the program led a game anytime after the first inning since its last win on May 6, 2019.
“They just kept talking about, ‘Coach, we’re winning,’ ” head coach Haleigh Webb said about her upperclassmen during that game. “They couldn’t believe it.”
Starting a team for the first time in three years, the Indians went 0-17 in 2022 and scored 10 total runs. For the players who went through that campaign, there was nothing like scoring a season’s worth of runs in one game and going 1-0 to begin what could be a new era for Cedarville softball.
Nine freshman have come up to join the five junior returnees from last year’s squad. They bring with them a strong reputation after having success in the junior ranks, which last year’s players weren’t able to provide because most of them were taking the field for the first time.
Winning a game was routine for the newcomers, but a brand new experience for everyone else.
“After the [first] game, the girls were extremely excited,” Webb said. “We have a group text and the girls were putting everything there telling me about how they were feeling afterwards. The freshman are used to winning, so it wasn’t as big to them as it was for the juniors.”
Webb, who is in her first year as head coach, said it was a surprise to learn about who each of her players were when she started the job. She didn’t expect to find it would be the group of young players having almost all of the experience and expertise to pick up on coaching during practices.
The freshman through the first five games of the season have accounted for the majority of the team’s offensive production, as well as all of the innings pitched.
Hitting .308 as a group at the plate, they have already scored more runs, stolen three times as many bases, and gotten more than halfway to the total hit production of last year’s squad for the entire season in only a fourth of the games played.
Joscelyn Evans and Chloe Miller both have at least a .500 batting average. Mackenzie Ankeney is also off to a good start with six hits and Brenna Atkins has reached base at a 50 percent clip.
Adyson Rodgers in game two against Greenon hit the first home run by a Cedarville player in four years and leads the team in RBI with six.
“They are extremely smart,” Webb said. “You tell them one thing and they pick it up automatically.”
The dynamic between the newcomers and holdovers has been positive, according to Webb. She sees the freshman as all close with one another from the years they have already played together and readily seeking to bond with their elders. The team as a whole has held multiple group events to build bonds with one another over the first few weeks of the season.
“They’re a great group of girls, not really any drama and that’s really rare to find when you get a bunch of 14 girls together,” Webb said. “… They communicate really well together and I can’t say enough great hings about them.”
Only a year ago, Cedarville was just happy not to be losing a game by double digits.
With a number of fresh faces contributing, more potentially arriving in future years, and finally some wins to feel good about, the outlook has rapidly brightened for Indians softball.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twiter @Steven_Wright_.