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Hustle plays providing early rewards for Xenia softball


XENIA — Already having a high ability to swing the bat is causing the opposition’s stress levels to rise when facing Xenia softball this season, but the overall hustle accompanying it is proving to be a finer trait the Bucs have developed.

In the bottom of the third during Wednesday’s home opener, Megan Bradley drew a walk on a full count to lead off the inning with the Bucs already leading 11-0. Almost inexplicably, she motored around first base toward an uncovered bag while the West Carrollton catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher.

The ensuing throw to the shortstop beat Bradley’s slide by several feet, but it couldn’t be handled as it skipped off the dirt and into centerfield. Even after taking the extra bag, she still wasn’t satisfied and quickly made her way to third base safely standing up.

“It’s just like my first instinct to go because sometimes the throws are a little sloppy,” Bradley said. “And then if like the ball passes, I just get up and just keep on going.”

The reward? Nearly being able to walk home on the next pitch after it sailed to the backstop and getting a big smile from head coach John Miner.

The hustle plays are how a team can produce 32 runs while only accumulating 16 total hits to complete a doubleheader sweep as the Bucs did with a 17-0 win in the scheduled contest and 15-5 at the conclusion of Tuesday’s suspended game.

“The green light is always on for most of our players,” Miner said. “You know, I’m trying to get them to the next level and they’re trying to get to the next base.”

Xenia hitters led the MVL in 2022 with a batting average (.451) and on base percentage (.524) and hasn’t shown signs of slowing it down in three games this year.

Tori McPherson nearly won the league’s triple crown and is already off to a perfect start at the plate with four hits to go with four walks after missing the first game of the season. She beat out an infield single in the fifth inning of game two to keep her batting average at 1.000.

Kynnydy Lewis leads the squad in the early going in extra base hits (2) and times on base (11). She legged out a triple hit into centerfield with the ball returning to the cutoff man just as she rounded second base.

McKendell Boyer cleared the bases on a single which she dashed into a three-base error. Not officially an inside the park grand slam, but it had the same effect.

She along with Mariah Smith, Dakota Wagner and Bradley all boast OBPs of at least .500, causing baserunners to be constantly present and on the minds of the defense.

An impressive 33 stolen bases in three games by the team rises head and shoulders above everything else. It’s the cleanest statistical sign of how hustle pays off, and it is fueled by wanting to take advantage of every opportunity, according to Bradley.

“It gets everyone pumped up,” she said. “It brings up all the energy and when you do something good on the field it makes you feel that energy and that just makes you want to keep doing it more and more.”

Xenia has several upperclassmen hitters at the top of its lineup which have shown they can produce in the past, and Miner said he thinks his younger players are already feeding off them quicker than he originally thought they might.

Together they’ve scored 40 times in three games and are showing that using your legs is just as effective as swinging the bat.

“Runs win games and that’s what we’re out here to do,” Miner said. “Somehow whether we’re moving a runner, or hitting a triple and clearing the bases, just finding a way.”

Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.