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The Bulldogs softball team heads into the 2023 season with its top pitchers and catcher serving as team captains. From left are captains Halee Sparks, Violet Babb and Ella Laws. Not pictured is Autumn Sorenson. (Submitted photo)

Bulldog Sports Round-Up | April 7, 2023

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Baseball

The Yellow Springs High School varsity baseball team caravanned over to Cedarville on Tuesday, March 28, for a meeting with yet another Indians team. This was a postponed game from March 27, as the Cedarville staff was not able to get the field ready after the rain.

The Bulldogs were significantly shorthanded due to a rash of injuries and illness. However, they jumped out to a 1–0 lead in the first inning on a solid single up the middle by senior Krishan Miller that scored senior Josh Clark from third. Miller, in his first pitching outing of the year, held the Indians to one run through three innings to keep the score level. The Indians broke through for four runs in the fourth inning, thanks to a two-out, bases-clearing hit by the Cedarville second baseman. The Bulldogs fought back and garnered another run as sophomore Hazen VanMeter knocked in junior Isaac Grushon, who had walked and moved to third on another hit by Miller. The Indians’ bats woke up as the rain started to fall, finally putting away the Bulldogs in a 12–2 game that was marked by zero errors by the defense. Miller struck out six in his complete game effort.

The boys traveled to Tri-County North to face the strong club from Lewisburg in the brisk weather on Wednesday evening, March 29. On the mound, VanMeter had his first outing of the young season and started strong. He gave up zero runs in the first inning and two in the second, then the Panthers put the bat on the ball with multiple singles.

Unfortunately, the Bulldogs’ gloves had no sparkle left after the previous game and gave up several errors, leading to a big inning. Freshman Caleb Derrickson made his first high school appearance in relief of VanMeter and got out of the inning with minimal additional damage. By that time the game was out of hand, but the Bulldogs did not give up, plating five runs in their last inning. Junior Antonio Chaiten led the way with two hits in his breakout game of the season.

Alas, it was not enough to overcome the TCN powerhouse, and Yellow Springs succumbed 15–5, although earning respect from the opposing coach and the plate umpire for their perseverance.

Mother nature had a clean sweep for the rest of the week, wiping out games on Friday and Saturday between Tri-Village and Troy Christian, respectively. The Tri-Village game will not be rescheduled. Rescheduling of the Troy Christian game is in progress. Several games have recently been added: Wednesday, April 12, 5:30 p.m., at Gaunt Park, against Thurgood Marshall; Wednesday, April 19, 5:30 p.m., at Meadowdale High School; and Thursday, April 20, 5:30 p.m., at Gaunt Park, against Meadowdale.

—Mitch Clark, coach

Softball

Last year’s Yellow Springs Bulldogs softball team featured a senior-laden squad that swept through the Metro Buckeye Conference, or MBC, with an undefeated record. With only three starters returning and the entire starting infield graduating, on the surface it would appear to be a rebuilding year for the team.

“Not so,” said Coach Jimmy DeLong, who stated that, while the team will be inexperienced, they have their top two pitchers and catcher returning for another season.

Indeed, pitchers Halee Sparks and Violet Babb will provide a solid one-two punch for the Bulldogs, and along with catcher Ella Laws, will provide a strong foundation for success. Sparks returns to the mound after leading the MBC in wins and earned-run average, and she sparkled on the mound the last week of the season when she went 5–0 with two no-hitters. Sparks is also a leading hitter at the plate, as she finished last year with a stellar .579 batting average.

Babb is the harder thrower of the two and has greatly improved her velocity in the off-season by going to individual pitching lessons. Babb is also a force at the plate, as she led the MBC in homeruns, batting average, base hits and runs batted. Babb was also second in runs scored and stolen bases and had an overall .788 batting average.

Meanwhile, Laws proved to be a leading hitter last season, as she was tied for second in the MBC in runs batted in; she has also shown to be an outstanding catcher in the preseason.

Returning players Gabby Florence, Adeline Zinger and Chole Bayard are also set to be key players for the team this year. Florence is the projected shortstop, Zinger will hold down the third-base position, and Bayard will see time at first base. Florence has played summer ball, understands the game and is ready to assume the shortstop leadership role so vital to a team’s success. Zinger is a second-year player who found her hitting stroke at the end of last season and on defense is a prototype third-base player, as she possesses both a quick glove and a strong and accurate arm. Bayard has looked impressive at first base in the preseason and will see a lot of playing time at first base.

The rest of the team consists of newcomers Autumn Sorenson, Lily Fritsch, Ayla Current, Neveah Smith, Tavey Johson and Metsu Barnett. Coach Jim was pleased with the talent and attitude of the new players, saying: “This group has never played softball but there is a lot of athleticism in the group.”

Indeed, in the preseason, Smith has looked like a natural for second base, with a soft glove and throws with a quick release and has the speed to become a solid leadoff hitter. Johnson has good defensive skills and as a hitter has crushed the ball in the preseason. Sorenson will be the No. 3 pitcher and is probably the fastest runner on the team. Fritsch, Current and Barnett are all players who have the innate desire to succeed on the field as shown by their hustling attitude during practices.

The Bulldogs are coached by Jim DeLong (12th season), Bubba Worsham, Jesi Worsham, Shannon Hobbs, Elly Kumbusky and Mariah Camden. Home games are played at Gaunt Park, and the game schedule can be found on the MBC website at metrobuckeyesports.com.

—Jimmy DeLong, coach

Track

The Yellow Springs High School Boys and Girls track teams started off their 2023 season at the ultra competitive Wayne High School Quint meet. Running against Division I teams, both squads finished in seventh place in the eight-team field.

The seniors were at the forefront in leading the Bulldogs. Seasoned veterans Josie DeWine and Cheyan Sundell-Turner performed admirably as they earned runner-up finishes in their respective races (3,200 and 1,600 meters). The two teamed up with ninth-graders Rebecca DeWine and Addison Shafeek for a third-place finish in the 1,600-meter relay. Sophomore Tiger Collins ran a personal best time in the 100 hurdles (seventh) and also leaped to a sixth place effort in the long jump. Rising ninth-grader Llynah Grant sped to a sixth-place finish in the 100 meters and added a seventh-place finish in the long jump. The relay quartet of Llynah Grant, Maya Henderson, Gema Paz Brizuela and Ariana Robinson ran to an eighth-place finish in the 400 relay. Newcomers Cynthia Burke, Ashton Egea-Kaleda and Lilliana Sylvester performed admirably in their initial high school meet.

On the boys side, seniors Malcolm Blunt and Sven Meister led the Bulldog pack. Blunt placed in three different events, with a fifth place in the long jump and a pair of sixth-place finishes in the 200 and 400 meters. Meister flexed to third place in the shot put and a personal best toss in the discus that led to a seventh-place finish. Eight other Bulldogs competed in their first ever varsity meet and showed great potential: Kiernan Anderson, Zachariah Butler, Ethan Goodman, Kyle Johnston, Jonah Summers, Charles Whitlock, Morris Wyatt and Phoenix York put forth great efforts. Junior veteran Malik Booth ran a near personal best in the 800 meters.

Coaches Isabelle Dierauer and John Gudgel were impressed with the effort and the mindset of competing against superior competition. The Bulldogs were scheduled at press time to compete at the Springfield Shawnee Seitz Invitational on Thursday and will run next week at the Graham Invitational.

—John Gudgel, coach

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