When a conference has some of the state’s finest players and coaches right in its own backyard, good things are bound to happen.
That, however, has only become routine over the past decade inside the SOC softball lines. This season was no different, as 44 girls — including 32 from inside the Scioto County lines — were named as All-SOC talents on Monday afternoon by the conference.
Of those 32 Scioto County honorees, 19 of them came from either Clay, Minford, Notre Dame, or Wheelersburg, with Clay collecting five honorees apiece among their SOC I counterparts, and Wheelersburg adding five additional players to the SOC II list. Minford and Notre Dame put four players each on the SOC II and SOC I teams, respectively, to round out a strong year for the quartet.
In SOC I play, Clay, who won 26 straight games and collected 14 of their 28 victories in mercy rule fashion en route to a 14-0 SOC I record, a Division IV District Championship, a regional semifinal berth, and a 28-2 overall record, put do-it-all phenom Jensen Warnock (who exceeded .540 at the plate with five home runs, 15 doubles, and 37 RBI) and pitching stalwarts Julia Swain and Hannah Oliver on the SOC I First-Team. The latter, on the strength of combining with Swain to collect 258 strikeouts over the course of the year and after throwing a no-hitter against Green on April 10, won SOC I Pitcher of the Year honors.
Joining the trio on the second team was Shaelynn Vassar and Bre Donahoe, who, like their No. 3-hole hitting teammate, proved to be strong producers at the top of the lineup. Vassar hit over .500 and stole 22 bases at the leadoff spot, while Donahoe, a rock solid infielder who hit .440 with 28 RBI, joined Vassar on the second team list in her final year of eligibility.
Notre Dame, who finished second in SOC I play with a 10-4 record overall, put its two pitching aces in Maggie Whitman and Cassie Schaefer on the first team, while cleanup hitter Makayla Hadsell and designated player Sydney Whitman collected second team accolades for the Lady Titans.
Rounding out the competitive play in the SOC I realm was East, Green, and New Boston, who each put one individual apiece on the first and second teams. Kaylee Stone, a strong middle infielder, was a first team selection for the Lady Tigers, while the play of Green’s Hayley Bradley and East’s Peyton Helphinstine joined Stone on the initial unit. New Boston ace Tasha Poole, along with a pair of strong bats in Green’s Korie Deerfield and East’s Gracie Billings, rounded out the SOC I list.
In SOC II play, the Lady Pirates, behind a 25-3 record, another undefeated 14-0 SOC II slate, and a OHSAA Division III state runner-up finish, put Division I signees Kalle Coleman and Faith Howard, along with gritty catcher Kasey Bergan, on the first team. Coleman was a standout middle infielder and leadoff hitter for Wheelersburg during all four years of her playing career, and Howard, who took over primary pitching duties from Abbi Sparks in her sophomore year, led the Lady Pirates to three consecutive OHSAA Final Four berths from the circle, including the 2016 OHSAA Division III State Championship. Bergan, the team’s three-hole hitter in 2017, is a gritty catcher who added strong leadership to a senior class of seven.
On the second unit, Bre Klaiber, the cleanup hitter for the Lady Pirates this past year, and Sarah Claxon, who served as the Lady Pirates’ six-hole hitter, made the second team unit. Both individuals, who played at third and first base, respectively, brought solid gloves and power bats to the table.
Minford, who went 12-2 in SOC II play, was led by two senior strongholds in Ariel Kingery and Mary Pica. Kingery, a Shawnee State signee, and Pica, who inked with Rio Grande, have been middle-of-the-order contributors since their sophomore campaigns, with Kingery and Pica providing pitching and defensive stability for the Lady Falcons, respectively, over the course of their high school careers.
Following Kingery and Pica on the second team were Zoe Doll — who brings a massive power bat to the table and a solid glove in the middle infield — and Brittani Wolfenbarker, who is one of the many strong players that Minford has in a stellar freshman class.
Northwest, South Webster, West, and Valley rounded out the SOC II honorees by placing two individuals apiece on the unit. The fantastic hitting tandems of Megan Shultz and Laiken Rice (Northwest), Makayla White and Terra Butcher (West), and Marissa Markins and Destiny Gardner (Valley) were all represented on either the first or second teams, while the Lady Jeeps’ Kaylee Hadinger and Mikaylah Belford, who each obtained All-District honors, obtained first and second team accolades, respectively.
With their 14-0 marks in SOC I and SOC II play, respectively, Clay’s Jason Gearheart and Wheelersburg’s Teresa Ruby each obtained a share of their league’s coach of the year honors. Ruby shared SOC II Co-Coach of the Year honors with Minford’s Preston Messer, while Kelsey Jenkins — a 2011 Wheelersburg High School graduate and a four-year student-athlete at Shawnee State who was an All-SOC and All-Southeast District honoree in 2010 and 2011 with the Lady Pirates — took her softball acumen to Eastern, where the 24-year old led the Eagles to an impressive 9-5 record in SOC I play. The former middle infielder shared SOC I Co-Coach of the Year honors with Gearhardt as a result.
Jensen Warnock (Clay), Julia Swain (Clay), Hannah Oliver (Clay), Maggie Whitman (Notre Dame), Cassie Schaefer (Notre Dame), Jana Stockham (Eastern), Madison Southworth (Eastern), Taylor Webb (Symmes Valley), Kaylee Stone (New Boston), Hayley Bradley (Green), Kylie Tong (Western), Peyton Helphinstine (East)
Shaelynn Vassar (Clay), Bre Donahoe (Clay), Makayla Hadsell (Notre Dame), Sydney Whitman (Notre Dame), Jaelyn Dixon (Eastern), Sierra Ross (Symmes Valley), Tasha Poole (New Boston), Korie Deerfield (Green), Jordyn Haggy (Western), Gracie Billings (East)
Player of the Year — Taylor Webb (Symmes Valley)
Pitcher of the Year — Hannah Oliver (Clay)
Co-Coaches of the Year — Jason Gearhart (Clay), Kelsey Jenkins (Eastern)
League Standings — Clay (14-0), Notre Dame (10-4), Eastern (9-5), Symmes Valley (8-6), New Boston (7-7), Green (6-8), Western (4-10), East (0-14)
Faith Howard (Wheelersburg), Kalle Coleman (Wheelersburg), Kasey Bergan (Wheelersburg), Mary Pica (Minford), Ariel Kingery (Minford), Kalicia Doles (Waverly), Mariah Burton (Waverly), Makayla White (West), Brooklyn Carpenter (Oak Hill), Megan Shultz (Northwest), Marissa Markins (Valley), Kaylee Hadinger (South Webster)
Bre Klaiber (Wheelersburg), Sarah Claxon (Wheelersburg), Zoe Doll (Minford), Brittani Wolfenbarker (Minford), Jessa Evans (Waverly), Terra Butcher (West), Cait Brisker (Oak Hill), Laiken Rice (Northwest), Destiny Gardner (Valley), Mikaylah Belford (South Webster)
Player of the Year — Kalle Coleman (Wheelersburg)
Pitcher of the Year — Faith Howard (Wheelersburg)
Co-Coaches of the Year — Teresa Ruby (Wheelersburg); Preston Messer (Minford)
League Standings — Wheelersburg (14-0), Minford (12-2), Waverly (9-5), West (8-6), Oak Hill (6-8), Northwest (3-11), Valley (3-11), South Webster (1-13).
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7