A 16-12 regular season (7-9 PAC) earned the Oberlin Phoenix softball team a third place finish in the conference last season.
A first round playoff loss to Elyria Catholic left some unfinished business for ninth-year coach Josie Martin and her girls.
“We have three big-time bats coming back for us,” she said. “We can count on them but need to find better consistency in play as a team in all aspects. I feel like we have a good chance to perform well in the conference.”
The bats she referred to belong to Olivia Pfeifer (.471 batting average in 2016), Makenzie Tallman (.440), and Bryanna Rivas (.362).
The team swept its season-opening double-header last Saturday against North Ridgeville. Rivas, a sophomore, started and completed both games.
“She threw 16 innings,” said Martin. “We have the pieces and just have to put them together and remain focused.”
“We have Columbia coming up next week and that will be a big match-up for us,” she added. “The league is looking top-heavy again this year. It’s just all about consistency. We got run-ruled by Brooklyn last year, then came back and beat them the next day. We have to show up with max effort every game and every inning.”
Departing as seniors after last year were key contributors Arianna Ambrosio and Jayna Miceli. Ambrosio won seven games on the mound, hit .406, and knocked in 36 runs.
“I’m preaching to the girls that everybody just needs to do their one-ninth,” said the coach. “We’ve really been working on being able to bounce back when errors happen and other unexpected things.”
She said more team speed could help to make up for a misstep in the field or on the base paths this year.
“Speed is always an asset,” she said. “It can erase a mistake very quickly. Between that and the talent we have coming back in our lineup, I like how we’re looking.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.