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This year’s YSHS softball team captains are, from left, Ayla Current, Violet Babb, Chloe Bayard and Ella Laws. (Submitted photo)

Bulldog Sports Round-Up | March 29, 2024

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SOFTBALL

Promising season ahead

It looks to be an exciting season for the YS High School softball team as they are hoping to build on last season’s late success, when they finished by winning six of their last seven games.

This year’s team will be an experienced group, with five seniors on the squad as they return seven starters. The team will be led by last year’s Metro Buckeye Conference (MBC) Player of the Year, senior Violet Babb. 

Babb was a dominant player in the MBC last year as she had a .672 batting average and led the league in home runs, hits, runs batted in and runs scored.

“This is my fourth year coaching Babb and she’s improved every year. As her statistics show, she can do it all on offense, but she also plays outstanding defense for us,” Coach Jim DeLong said, adding that Babb is also projected to be the No. 1 pitcher for the team.

“Babb pitched for us last year as our No. 2 pitcher, and in the off season she took pitching lessons to help her improve her pitching — and it worked, as she is throwing harder and has developed a nice change-up,” DeLong said.

Other players who look to be key contributors to the team are infielders Isabella Millhoan, Nevaeh Smith, Lily Kibblewhite, Adeline Zinger and Chloe Bayard.

Millhoan transferred to Yellow Springs this year and is slated to step into a starting role at both first base and pitcher. DeLong has been pleased with her performance thus far, as Millhoan hit well during the preseason and pitched well in the team’s first scrimmage.

“Millhoan is just what this team needed as we were looking for somebody to play first base and also looking for a No. 2 pitcher, and she excels at both and is very coachable,” DeLong said.

Senior Nevaeh Smith will anchor second base and senior newcomer Lilly Kibblewhite will be the shortstop. Smith played second last year and provided solid defense as well as speed on the bases. Kibblewhite, who was the soccer goalie for the Bulldogs in the fall, decided to play softball for her senior year and has been a solid addition to the team.

“Even though Kibblewhite has never played softball, I quickly realized from day one that she was going to be my shortstop as she has quick hands, a strong and accurate arm, swings a good bat and just as importantly, is a leader on the field,” DeLong said.

Chloe Bayard and Adeline Zinger will anchor third base, with Bayard also playing first and some outfield, according to DeLong.

“Both Bayard and Zinger can drive the ball and possess a strong arm,” he said.

In the outfield, junior Ayla Current and sophomores Tavey Johnson and Lily Fritsch will play key roles this year. Current played outfield last season and had one of the top on-base percentages for the team.Johnson was the starting left fielder. Fritsch is a versatile and athletic player who was used at second base and third base last year, as well as the outfield.

Last but not least in the infield is catcher Ella Law, who blossomed as catcher last year and returns as the top catcher in the league this year.

“Catcher is such a critical position in fastpitch softball — I’ve been spoiled by having Law at catcher,” DeLong said. “She can hit and on defense has ultra quick reflexes and a quick release and strong arm. Last year she threw out several runners attempting to steal a base. This is my 13th year coaching softball at Yellow Springs, and she is definitely the best catcher I’ve coached during my time here.”

Filling out the roster are second-year player Metsu Barnett and new players Gabriella Kibblewhite, Nora Bongorno and Kennedy Stroble. DeLong said Barnett is one of the fastest runners on the team, showing ability to get on base using that speed. He added that all the new players are “very athletic and have already made significant improvements in their hitting and fielding in the short time [the team has] been practicing.”

Current, Bayard, Laws and Babb will serve as team captains. Coaches are DeLong, Jesi Worsham, Bubba Worsham and Elly Kumbusky. The Bulldogs play their home games at Gaunt Park, and their game schedule can be found on the MBC website at metrobuckeyesports.com.

—Coach Jim DeLong

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