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2024 High School Softball Season Previews

2024 High School Softball Season Previews


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


Portage County high school softball team previews for the 2024 season.




Head Coach: Sam Petrash, 7th year, 84-38 career record.

Coaching Staff: Rob Kennedy, Sarah Ross, Jerry Gattozzi, Glenn Galang, Cayla Mazzola.

2023 Record: 23-5 overall, 13-1 Suburban League American Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (11): Madeline Dalessandro, McKennah Metzger, Julia Miller, Sophia Petrash, Avery Qualters, Sophia Retton, Sophia Schechterman, Rayna Unverferth, Lailah Bohanan, Alexis Kemble, Addison Witting.

Letterwinners Lost (2): Maggie McVicker, Abigail Dalessandro.


The Greenmen are coming off a championship-level season in 2023, with equally high hopes for 2024.

“We bring back nearly everyone. Our league is always tough, and we have a tough independent schedule to prepare us for the state tournament.”


The quartet of Miller, Kemble, Petrash, Unverferth, along with Charlotte Sorma and Lila Bultrowicz, anchor the infield.

Unverferth (.462 average, 42 runs, 17 RBI) and Petrash (.393 average, 28 runs, 19 RBI) have played together for nine years and are the strength up the middle for Aurora.

Miller (.279 average, 10 RBI, 17 runs) and Bultrowicz are on the corners, with Kemble and Sorma expected to earn time as well.


Dalessandro (.300 average, 11 runs) and Qualters (.298 average, 12 runs) are the returning leaders.

Witting will also contribute with her aggressive and trusted glove.

Collis is also expected to make an impact.


Schechterman and Dalessandro will split time behind the plate.

Schechterman hit .443 last season, with 11 doubles and drove in 14.

“She is deceptively quick, with a strong arm.”


Metzger returns as the team’s ace. She has already committed to Coastal Carolina and was named First Team All-Ohio last season.

She was 18-4, with 177 strikeouts and a 1.50 ERA. She was also dominant at the plate, with a batting average of .558, with 12 doubles, 11 home runs and 54 RBI.

“She dominates on both sides of the ball.”

Retton (2-1 record last year) is another arm for the Greenmen, who also hits well, finishing last year with a .455 average, eight doubles, six home runs, 28 RBI and 27 runs scored.

Bohanan was 3-0 last year and had 33 strikeouts. Another dual threat, at the plate last year, she hit .548.


Madeline Dalessandro, McKennah Metzger.


Julia Miller, Sophia Petrash, Avery Qualters, Sophia Retton, Sophia Schechterman, Rayna Unverferth, Lailah Bohanan, Lila Bultrowicz.


“We return all but two players from last year’s roster. Most players have played together since they were 7 or 8 years old. We have a very strong and cohesive team of players.”




Head Coach: Matthew Helm, 4th year (1st at Crestwood), 18-46 career record.

Coaching Staff: Eric Davis, Samantha Toke, Katie Hurst, Jeremy Hunter.

2023 Record: 11-10 overall, 7-2 Chagrin Valley Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (8): Bella Hunter, sr.; Mia Gullatta, sr.; Ashlyn Weaver, sr.; Kaitlyn Huffman, sr.; Erin Hallis, jr.; Alyssa Hallis, jr.; Kayleigh Helm, jr.; Audrey Julian, soph.


“We have a good core of players that will carry this year’s squad. They have already been stepping up to lead by example and vocally.”

The Red Devils feature four returning All-CVC players from last season.

“However, we still have some young players, as well as players in different positions, so it will be important to adjust and jell quickly.”


Kayleigh Helm, who was Second Team All-CVC last year, will start at first base and will be a three-year starter in the program.

At second base, Alyssa Hallis, who was a First Team All-CVC outfielder a year ago, will transition to the infield. She is another three-year varsity starter.

“She is very athletic and has worked hard to learn her new position.”

Freshman Grace Harper has earned the starting role at shortstop.

“She is a natural athlete. She is tall and moves well, with a strong arm.”

At third base will be Mia Gullatta, who is making the move from second base.

“She has brought the same attitude with the move and will be a solid corner player.”

Gullatta is a third infielder for the Devils that is a three-year starter.


Audrey Julian will start in left field after spending last year as a platoon player.

“Her speed and work ethic has been a big part of her earning a position this year.”

In centerfield will be Erin Hallis, who was named Second Team All-CVC in 2023.

“Erin is very athletic and a hard worker. She tracks balls well and has a solid bat, being a contact hitter.”

Starting in right field will be Kaitlyn Huffman, who Helm said has “been consistent in the field over the preseason and has experience being a two-year starter.”


Ashley Weaver will be the starter.

She has worked hard to get the opportunity after playing mostly third base during games last year.


Bella Hunter returns to lead the staff. She was a First Team All-CVC player last year, serving as the Devil’s No. 1 pitcher and best hitter.

Gullatta and Harper will also get time inside the circle.


Bella Hunter, Kayleigh Helm, Erin Hallis, Alyssa Hallis.


Grace Harper.


“We have four all-conference players returning with a lot of experience, which is big for us considering we have so many players moving positions and new players at both levels.”


“Our lack of experience after our starters, and we need to stay healthy.”




Head Coach: Beth Dyer, 18th year, 326-97 career record.

Coaching Staff: Bob Bauer, Dan Battaglia, Connie Tenney.

2023 Record: 19-7 overall, 11-3 Metro Athletic Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (12): Olivia Bey, sr.; Abbey Goodheart, sr.; Maddie Burge, jr.; Tia Ulrich, jr.; Kailyn Gressman, jr.; Olivia Dyer, jr.; Delilah Rahe, jr.; Mckayla Miller, jr.; Jessica Pollard, jr.; Cassidey Wells, jr.; Lilli Sutkowy, soph.; Averi Weis, soph.

Letterwinners Lost (3): Megan Schmidt, Bailey Evans, Anna Harlin.


“We have experience in most positions, and we are looking to compete for a league and district title.”


Gressman returns as the starter at third base. She was solid defensively, with a .891 fielding percentage, while also consistent at the plate with only two strikeouts in 81 at-bats last season.

Another starter, Ulrich, returns at shortstop after hitting .423 last year.

“She gets stronger every year and anchors down the infield. She is a good leader.”

Miller moves into a starting role at second base, replacing the graduated Megan Schmidt.

“Mckayla has shown a lot of growth as a player in the last few years. She is an athletic player.”

At first base, Dyer returns as the starter. She posted a .969 fielding percentage last year.

“She is a very consistent and reliable player.”

Goodheart will also get time at first base for the Falcons.


Pollard and Wells will split time at centerfield.

“Both have experience and bring speed.”

Rahe, who hit .400 last year and hit six home runs, returns as a starter, while Sutkowy (.423 average last year) also brings experience and athleticism to the outfield.

New to varsity this year, who will make an impact, are Abby Harlin and Kendall Brugler.


Weis is a returning letter winner, with freshman Nyla Hindel also expecting to see time.

“Both show good leadership behind the plate and are strong catchers.”


Bey and Burge will be the top pitchers for the Falcons, while Gressman, Dyer and Sutkowy will also get time.


Olivia Bey, Abbey Goodheart.


Lilli Sutkowy, Averi Weis, Nyla Handel.


“We have experienced and dedicated players that have the drive to be successful.”


Dyer points to her team “staying healthy” as a key.




Head Coach: Tina Faulhaber, 15th year, 192-111-1 career record.

Coaching Staff: Ali Roach.

2023 Record: 10-10-1 overall, 8-5-1 Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (8): Lizzy Moore, sr.; Kolby Fresch, jr.; Juliana Genovese, jr.; Maddy Wilson, sr.; Gabriel Groves, sr.; Mikayla Swigonski, sr.; Annie Rado, soph.; Kaelyn Tasker, soph.

Letterwinners Lost (5): Kyndall Hahn, CC Porter, Allie Runewicz, Kaitlynn Thompson, Dezaray McIe.


“We have a good mix of experienced talent and young skill and drive.”


The diamond will be anchored by Wilson, Grove, Swigonski and Genovese.


The group of Tasker, Rado, Moore and Ella Kissell are expected to see time in the outfield.


Fresch returns as the starter after catching every game for the G-Men last year.


Moore pitched the bulk of the innings last year and brings a variety of pitches to the position.

Genovese has speed and Rado is a left-hander — and both will produce innings this season.


Lizzy Moore, Maddy Wilson.


Olivia Zicaric, Charlie Hill, Giada Genovese.


“We have eight returning letter winners.”


“The competition in our league is fierce.”




Head Coach: Jeff Fankhauser, 5th year, 72-22 career record.

Coaching Staff: Thomas Pollock, Colleen Coughlin.

2023 Record: 18-6 overall, 6-2 Portage Trail Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (11): Olivia Kidd, sr.; Savannah Thomas, sr.; Brianna McQuain, sr.; Katie Gardner, sr.; Addie Christy, jr.; Lily Hotchkiss, jr.; Gracie Funk, jr.; MJ Shellenbarger, soph.; Embry Hudak, soph.; Rylee Clark, soph.; Jayden Miller, soph.

Letterwinners Lost (1): McKenna Whitehead.


“We have numerous returning letter winners and additional players who gained valuable experience last year, which should make our team quite competitive this season.”


Hotchkiss returns for her fourth year as the starter at shortstop.

“She handles pressure situations well, both in the field and as our No. 4 hitter.”

Miller is a player that Fankhauser said “adapts well and can play several different positions.” She will be competing for a chance to start at second base with Hudak, who will also spend some time pitching.

Peyton Walker, a sophomore, will find time at second and third base.

“She returns to the team after an injury from last year and has a positive attitude.”

Sophomore Callin Finley is also returning from an injury and will see time at first base.

“Her hard work is benefitting her skills, and she is willing to do whatever it takes for the good of the team.”

Freshman McKenna Clark is a versatile player that will compete for time in both the infield and outfield.


McQuain returns as the starter in right field.

“She has a great attitude that shows on and off the field.”

Thomas will bounce around the outfield this season based on the team’s needs.

“Savannah works hard and is always eager to help the team out.”

Funk gets the nod as the starting centerfielder for the third straight year.

“She has the qualities to become a leader.”

Rylee Clark will start in left field for the second year in a row.

“She gained valuable experience last year and it shows in her confidence at that position.”


Kidd is one of the team’s biggest leaders and will see time behind the plate, as well as third base.

Shellenbarger will also play third base and catcher.


Gardner returns as the Cats’ ace in the circle.

She had 12 wins and 113 strikeouts last year, with a 1.90 ERA.

Christy will also deliver innings.

When not pitching, Gardner and Christy will both play first base.


“I feel like we have done our best to put together a very competitive schedule this year, which will give us the opportunity to make another postseason run.”




Head Coach: Chloe Kramer, 7th year.

Coaching Staff: Madison Raynard, Andrew Kramer.

2023 Record: 3-20 overall, 1-13 Metro Athletic Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (7): Angelina Fuller, sr.; Jocelyn Impiccini, jr.; Whitney Holmes, jr.; Shyanna Dillbeck, jr.; Haden Decker, soph.; Isabella Short, soph.; Mallory Sterna, soph.

Letterwinners Lost (4): Madison Artz, McKayla Lawson, Hannah Reed, Angela White.


“I am extremely excited about our team this season and the progress they have shown so far. We are quick, supportive and hard working. I look forward to seeing their dedication to the sport translate throughout our season.”


The infield will be composed of Dillbeck, Fuller, Sterba and freshman Cassidy Piotrowski.

Holmes and freshman Kasey Sterna will also play in the infield when they are not pitching.


Senior Madeline Fedor has earned the starting position in centerfield.

“She has the ability to cover a lot of ground.”

Freshmen Aerreona Richmond and Khloe Falacienski, along with Decker and Short, will play in the outfield this season as well.


Mallory Sterba and Piotrowski will handle the work behind the plate.


Holmes and Kasey Sterba will be the Ravens’ leaders.


Shyanna Dillbeck, Whitney Holmes, Mallory Sterba, Kasey Sterba, Cassidy Piotrowski, Aerreona Richmond.


“The loss of five seniors” is something Kramer said she feels could be a challenge for her group.




Head Coach: Paige Byers, 4th year, 48-17 career record.

Coaching Staff: Taylor Shepherd, Emily Pierson.

2023 Record: 15-5 overall, 10-0 Portage Trail Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (9): Shelbie Krieger, sr.; Boston Silveus, sr.; Natalie Hammerschmidt, sr.; Abby White, sr.; Grace Luli, jr.; Kaitlyn Hammerschmidt, soph.; Katie Sisley, soph.; Reise Thomas, soph.; Chloe Gardner, soph.

Letterwinners Lost (2): Jessica Hahn, Zoey Noel.


“We have a great group of leadership returning, as well as uprising underclassmen to round out our team.”


The middle infield will be anchored by Thomas and Sisley.

“Returning those two key players will be part of the strength of our infield, with their speed and situational awareness.”

Kaitlyn Hammerschmidt will start at third base.

“Her bunt defense and arm strength will continue to be a big asset on defense.”

At first base, Gardner and Luli are expected to split time.


White returns to patrol centerfield, using her arm strength and hustle to keep runners from advancing.

Silveus brings “high game knowledge and speed,” according to Byers, to her starting left field position.

Freshman Lilly Kamenash and Val Derteen will also see time in the outfield.


Natalie Hammerschmidt returns as the team’s primary catcher.

“Her arm, blocking and vocal leadership will help continue our team’s success.”


Krieger returns as the two-time reigning league Player of the Year.

She posted a 13-3 record last year, with a 1.29 ERA and 191 strikeouts in 86.1 innings pitched.


Lilly Kamenash, Chloe Gardner.


“Our large number of returners means that we get to focus on fine-tuning our skills and improving upon last season.”




Head Coach: Erin Muncy, 7th year, 45-53 career record.

Coaching Staff: Heather Lindsay, Ashley Saxton.

2023 Record: 12-8 overall, 4-4 Portage Trail Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (7): Mya Sutcliffe, sr.; Lexi Morris, sr.; Ava Stephens, jr.; Addie Goldstein, jr.; Kylie Byrd, jr.; Morgan Muncy, soph.; Bailey Morris, soph.

Letterwinners Lost (2): Jade Whitely, Mack Foor.


“We will look to compete in every game this season. We know Mogadore and Rootstown will be the teams to beat in our league. We also look forward to playing some new schools this year, many of which we will continue to play in years to come — since they are members of our new league, the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference.”


Morgan Muncy will be the starter at third base.

The other positions will feature a shared workload, with Sutcliffe and Neena Truex at shortstop, Goldstein and Lexi Morris at second base and Izzy Schuller and Bailey Morris at first base.

“The infield is looking pretty good, with a nice combination of returning players, mixing well with the younger players. The infielders are communicating well with each other and have been very consistent so far this preseason.”


The outfield is an area of strength for the Pirates.

“They all display great speed and ability to read the ball well. We will rotate the outfield and look forward to the versatility we have.”

The group includes Byrd, Lexi Morris, Bailey Morris, Goldstein, Sutcliffe, Stephens and Muncy.


Stephens and Goldstein will both set up behind the plate.

Stephens was the team’s catcher last year, but Goldstein will help give her a break this season.

“Both catchers receive the ball well and do a nice job blocking. When not catching, both girls can play the infield or outfield equally well.”


The trio of Miranda Timko, Muncy and Truex will also get innings this year.

Last year’s No. 1, Liv Bragg, who pitched 63.1 innings, is out for the season with a hip injury.

Muncy was 6-0 with 69 strikeouts last year.

Timko and Truex, both freshmen, have different pitches that can keep batters off-balance.

“We are excited to have different options with our staff.”


Izzy Schuller, Miranda Timko, Neena Truex.


“We have a lot of talent and very versatile players. Creating a strong defensive lineup should not be a problem.”


“Right now, our biggest concern is offensive productivity.”




Head Coach: Brenda Flarida, 26th year, 313-216 career record.

Coaching Staff: Machayla Kehrer, Mackenzie Kehrer.

2023 Record: 5-11 overall, 4-8 Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (8): Morgan Sweitzer, sr.; Savannah Francis, sr.; Miranda Long, sr.; Alana Holmes, sr.; Gayley English, soph.; Regan Hellman, soph.; Kamryn Lynn, soph.; Briylynn Eddy, soph.

Letterwinners Lost (1): Jewil Lilley.


The Vikings return to starters and both will be on the left side, with Sweitzer at shortstop and Francis at third base.

At second base will be Hellman and Long will start at first base.

“Our infield will have varsity experience, but we will have to adjust to a new pitcher. They all bring a lot of talent, though.”


Returning letterwinner Holmes and Lynn will anchor the outfield.

Taryn Brown and Taylor Hellman are expected to also see time.

Flarida considers the group’s speed and experience to be areas of strength.


English was a starter last year as a freshman and returns again this season.

“Her experience last season, with a veteran pitcher (graduated Jewel Lilley) will help her lead our freshman pitcher this year.”


Waterloo will turn to freshman Kristlyn Kehrer as the team’s No. 1.

“She is new to the varsity level, but she is no stranger to the program as her two standout sisters, Machayla and Mackenzie, are former Waterloo pitchers and are part of the coaching staff this season.”

Even still, Flarida knows that Kehrer will have to “adjust to the varsity level quickly, but she does have an experienced defense behind her.”


“We have a very hard working group of girls, with veteran players and the addition of newcomers. They both bring a lot of excitement to the team. We hope the weather cooperates, and we can get outside and get on dirt. The tradition we have created within our program is always our strength.”


“Having a freshman pitcher, adjusting to the varsity level is always a concern early in the season. However, with the veteran girls we have in the field, hopefully that will come together soon for us. It will come with repetition and game experience.”




Head Coach: Tom VanKirk, 4th year, 41-24 career record.

Coaching Staff: Larry Jones, Dan Peterson, Sondra Brown.

2023 Record: 4-9 overall, 4-9 Northeastern Athletic Conference.

Returning Letterwinners (7): KaNeese Cunningham, sr.; Lexi Goodwin, sr.; Memphys Lough, sr.; Quinn Justham, jr.; Libby Inman, soph.; Skylar Bailey, soph.

Letterwinners Lost (4): Za’Nya Hendrson, Johnie Burnside, Brielle Jones, Chansey Jones.


“We hope to be much improved in year two of our program revamping. Progress over perfection at this point. I have no idea if we will win two games or 10, but we hope to be competitive.”


Leadership will begin with Lexi Goodwin, who was third on the team last season in batting average. She has the ability to be a utility player for the Bombers.

Justham was last season’s team MVP, hitting leadoff and will play third base and shortstop.

Incoming freshman Mackenzie Bryson will play shortstop and second base, while Alexandria Hudak will play first base.

“Both have impressed early and will anchor the infield.”


Angelina Jones returns to the sports after taking a few seasons off, but VanKirk said she has “been impressive from the start as a player and leader.”

Jones will start in centerfield.

Lough returns for her senior season after playing the first year of her softball life last year as a junior.

“She has quickly developed into a very good outfielder.”

Henderson, Bailey, along with Elaina Tucker, will all provide depth to the outfield.


Sydney Sweet returns to the team after missing all of last season with an injury.

“She will lead us behind the plate and provides a very good bat and high softball IQ.”


Cunningham returns as the team’s primary starter and was the team’s Defensive Player of the Year a year ago, despite missing part of the season with an injury.

“We hope to have her bounce back and provide senior leadership.”

Several other players may earn the chance to pitch, including Bryson, Justham and Hudak.


Lexi Goodwin, Angelina Jones, Quinn Justham.


Makenzi Bryson, Alexandria Hudak, Sydney Sweet, Elaina Tucker, Skylar Bailey.


“We are still working on the speed of the game, team chemistry on the field and overall softball IQ, but the players and coaches are putting in the work and are very enthusiastic. We are a talented, if somewhat raw, team that is improving by the day. We had barely nine players most of last season and struggled to field a team. This year, we have 17 players, and we are full of enthusiasm.”


“We need to do a better job of being consistent in all we do. We are not good enough to give teams free passes and base-runners on errors.”

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