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Last updated: April 09. 2014 12:26AM - 852 Views
By - jbombatch@civitasmedia.com



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BELLBROOK — The Bellbrook High School girls softball team has had to remain calm during the storm, missing several early season games as a result. Now they’ve been anxious to weather a storm of make-up games to finally get the season started.


“We didn’t have the opportunity to go anywhere over Spring Break (last week), so a couple extra days to practice actually did help us a little bit,” first-year coach Jeff Eckley said. “Now we kind of get into it full force. We have games Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then we have a doubleheader on Saturday. It is Ohio though, so to have that many days without rain would be unheard of. So we expected some rainouts.”


The Golden Eagles are loaded with experience and talent. They return seven returners from last year’s team that finished third in the Southwestern Buckeye League’s Southwestern division and advanced to the third round of the postseason. Five of those players were credited with All-SWBL honors in 2013.


The returning honorees are: senior first baseman Emily Smith; senior left fielder Madison Pittman; senior pitcher Haleigh Perry; senior shortstop Kara Eckley and junior third baseman Maranda Phillips. Also back this season are senior centerfielder Ali Bowers and junior catcher Livia Baker.


“The team is a good balance of speed and power, and has shown to be a solid defensive unit in the two scrimmages,” Eckley said.


The team will have plenty of depth with juniors Haylie Gazda (2B), Nicole Smallwood (1B), sophomores Anna Starkey (OF), Jackie Thompson (OF), Nicole Licher (P) and freshmen Megan Phillips (OF), Vica Apanasewicz (C) and Claire Fryman (3B).


Eckley said the team’s 10-15 overall mark (7-5 SWBL Southwestern) wasn’t indicative of the team’s abilities last season. Bellbrook took its lumps early on with an 0-6 road trip into North Carolina, but they were 10-9 the rest of the way.


“They rebounded well after that trip to North Carolina. They played some pretty stiff competition down there. When they returned, they had a pretty good finish to their year,” Eckley said. “We’re in a very competitive league — Franklin is always very strong, Valley View is always very strong, Brookville has a very good team — and then in our area, we have Kenton Ridge, who we’ll play later on this month in a doubleheader, who is the 2013 state runner up.


“So, we do have a good deal of experience coming back, and we have some outstanding players, but we realize that the level of competition in this area is pretty steep.”


Eckley says the strong level of league competition can only help the team once the post season rolls around.


“We really don’t have any games on our schedule that’re gimmes. Our league is pretty tough all around, and so it gives us an opportunity to be very prepared when it comes to tournament time,” he said.


Bellbrook finally gets to play a regular season game at 5 p.m. today when they’ll host SWBL Southwestern division foe Brookville.


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