Many area high schools will be breaking out the bats, cleats, and softballs as the upcoming spring season approaches.

Here is a look at various area softball programs for the 2022 high school season (Note: Only coaches who responded to questionnaires are included in this preview):

GARAWAY

Head Coach: Rick Johnson (4th season)

Conference: Inter-Valley Conference (South Division)

2021 record: 12-17 (8-4 IVC South)

Returning Lettermen: Meghan Petitte - Sr., Honorable Mention All-Ohian, 1st Team East District, 1st Team IVC

Jordyn Keim - So., 1st Team East District, 1st Team IVC
Isabelle Teatreault - So., 2nd Team East District, 2nd Team IVC
Shelby Gerber - Jr., Honorable Mention East District, Honorable Mention IVC
Amia Proper - Sr.
Grace Yoder - So.
Faith Windle - Jr.
Jodi Mast - So.

Top Newcomers: Mercedes Miller - Jr., RF/1B
Junior Lily Specht - 1st Base / Right Field / Catcher

Lexi Erb - Fr., 1B/P
Ava Starner - Fr., 3B/DP/Pinch Hitter/Runner

Lexy Troyer - Fr., P/DP/Pinch Hitter

Team Strength: We are bringing back a good core of athletes who gained valuable experience last season. We also have a lot of speed, and we're bringing back every position on the infield except first base.

Area of Improvement: Our mental toughness and focus. The varsity season is a grind so if we can stay focused and handle the ups and downs of the season mentally, we’ll be able to play some competitive softball.

Season Outlook: We are looking to continue building on the second half of our season last year that saw us go 10-5 down the stretch including winning our final two make-up games after the tournament. We are returning a good core of young girls that gained valuable varsity experience last season along with a few girls that we are expecting to be big contributors. Our success this year will be determined by how close we can become as a team, maintaining our focus through the daily grind, and giving our best effort each time we step on the field. We are looking forward to watching this group grow and compete at a high level.

Conference Outlook: Indian Valley has won the league every year since 2019 so we expect them to be a pretty good team again this year. We tied with Claymont for second last year with an 8-4 record. We are hoping to be in the mix at the top of the conference this year.

NEW PHILADELPHIA

Head Coach: John Dupke (1st season)

Conference: East Central Ohio League

2021 record: 22-5 (5-1 ECOL)

Returning lettermen: Julia Miller - Sr., P, )1st Team All Ohio, 1st East District, 1st ECOL, Ohio State Signee)

McKalynne Helmke - Sr., Utility

Ella Yoder - Jr., OF

Madison Wright - So., SS

Peyton Murphy - So., 2B/OF

Sarah Ciereszewski - So., 1st/OF/P

Top newcomers: Reese Loveday - Fr., C

Ellie Mason - Fr., 3B

Olivia Jackson - Fr., 1B/P

Zoey Devore - Fr., OF

Sidney Vandall - Fr., OF

Team Strength: Pitching! Having the Ohio State signee in Julia Miller on the mound, helps take care of any weaknesses we might have.

Area of Improvement: Offense. We want to help take pressure off of our pitching and defense. We won quite a few 1-0 games last year and that puts a  lot of pressure on your pitching and defense. We want to be more consistent on offense and put pressure on our opponents.

Conference Outlook: Our rival in Dover will be a contender like most seasons but you can't take anybody lightly so we want to take each game one at a time and put ourselves into the mix. 

NEWCOMERSTOWN

Head Coach: Lee Fish (4th season)

Conference: Inter-Valley Conference (North Division)

2021 record: 9-8

Returning lettermen: Melanie Gibson - Sr., 2B

Brianna Robinson - Sr., 3B

Karley Ingle - Sr., P

Destiny Davis - Sr., RF

Gabby Gray - Jr., LF

Megan Perry - Jr., C

Chesney Freeman - So.

Jalissa Freeman - So.

Top Newcomers: Kameryn Dorland - Fr., 1B

Larissa Stull - Fr., SS

Alyssa Barker - Fr., CF

Team Strengths: Seniors will be the foundation of the team. I look to the experience of the team as a whole to support them and help them become more prepared for a successful season with a lot of great girls 

Areas of Improvement: Outfield needs improvement, but all in all we should be a solid IVC team

Conference Outlook: Strasburg is always at the TOP of contenders in the IVC.

RIDGEWOOD

Head Coach: Amber Bates (1st season)

Conference: Inter-Valley Conference (South Division)

2021 record: 10-17 (6-11 IVC South)

Returning Lettermen: Carah Maldek - Sr., P/CF

Shelby Harding - Sr., 2B

Tarryn Morris - So., SS

Kendall Stocker - Jr., P/OF

Top newcomers: Kylah Patterson - Jr., 1B

Jaydeigh Miller - Jr., C

Lexxi McComber - So., OF

Emma Rettos - So., OF/1B/3B

Bailee Williams - So., 1B

Maggie Shannon - Fr., 3B/P

Sidney Moore - Fr., OF/1B

Ava Kulbacki - Fr., P

Team Strengths: The experience we have in such a young group. The willingness to put in the work in the offseason.

Areas of Improvement: Hitting. Last year towards the end of the season, their bats started to fall off. This year we have put in a lot of hitting time. This year we have put in a lot of hitting time. We need to be able to get runners that are in scoring position.

Conference Outlook: Indian Valley and Strasburg. They both have a lot of talent coming back this year.

SANDY VALLEY

Head Coach: Cortney Geiger (8th season)

Conference: Inter-Valley Conference (South Division)

2021 record: 5-16 (2-10 IVC South)

Returning lettermen: Allison Neary - Sr., C/3B/1B

Amber Ward - Sr., OF/P/1B

Carsyn Dine - Jr., SS/2B

Ashley Horsley - Jr., OF/C/1B

Breeli Faiello - So., OF

Lizzie Pomesky - So., OF

Top Newcomers: Joy Jones - So., OF

Athena Ritter - Fr., OF/3B/2B

Peyton Nicholson - Fr., OF/2B/SS/3B

Tatum Davis - Fr., OF/C/1B

Ava Goldsmith - Fr., OF/2B

Team Strengths: Hard work, dedication, teamwork, hustle

Areas of Improvement: Depth (low numbers), position changes, lack of experience on the mound and on the field, young

Season Outlook: The Lady Cards approach this season with six returning lettermen from last season. After losing four seniors from the 2021 team, the Cardinals come back with a young team that is coachable and strives to grow day in and day out. Although they lack varsity experience and knowledge, they have put in a lot of hard work and time throughout the preseason. The girls continue to grow mentally and physically as a team, and as a team we look forward to seeing how much they improve and grow throughout the upcoming season. They have a promising future ahead of them!

Conference Outlook: The Cardinals hope to be competitive this season in the Inter-Valley Conference South Division.

STRASBURG

Head Coach: Tom Spidell (3rd season)

Conference: Inter-Valley Conference (North Division)

2021 record: 26-3 (12-0 IVC North, 1st place)

Returning lettermen: Emma Gilkerson, Senior, Catcher/Shortstop; 1st Team IVC, IVC Player of the Year; 1st Team Eastern District, Eastern District Player of the year; 1st Team All-Ohio; BA .628, 14 HR, 48 RBIs

Dani Wright, Senior, 1st Base/Outfield; BA.240, 9 RBIs

JaeLynn Marks, Senior, Outfield; BA .292, 1 HR, 7 RBIs

Hayley Reiger, Junior, 2nd Base; Honorable Mention IVC; Honorable Mention Eastern District; BA .429, 1 HR, 20 RBIs

Sydney Sibila, Junior, 3rd Base/Catcher; Honorable Mention Eastern District; BA .375, 5 HR, 41 RBIs

Maggie Richards, Junior, Shortstop/Outfield; BA .393, 4 HR, 23 RBIs

Audrey Allensworth, Junior, Outfield/3rd Base; BA .321, 10 RBIs

Lilly Myers, Junior, Catcher (injured - out for the 2022 season); BA .273, 1 HR, 8 RBIs

Amelia Spidell, Sophomore, Pitcher/1st Base; 1st Team IVC; 1st Team Eastern District; 2nd Team All-Ohio; BA .333, 21 RBIs, Pitching 14-3, 134 Strikeouts, 2.57 ERA

Ada Richards, Sophomore, 2nd Base/Outfield; BA .344, 7 RBIs

Top Newcomers: Paige Garren, Senior, Outfield

Micah McCormick, Sophomore, Outfield

Rylee Becker, Freshman, Outfield/1st Base

Lauren Harvey, Freshman, Pitcher

Team Strengths: Offensively we return with a strong foundation of players,  Our team BA last season was .383 with 28 home runs, 239 RBIs, and 275 runs.  We have a strong pitching staff led by Amelia Spidell.  Defensively, we have depth with 9 returning lettermen who have valued experience.

Areas of Improvement: We are always working on our mental approach and recognize that the adversity for which our season ended last year is a driving force for each and every practice to continue to improve.

Conference Outlook: Conotton Valley should be strong with Maci Baker leading their pitching staff.  TCC, even with the loss of Sophia Knight, in the pitching circle returns many experienced players.

TUSCARAWAS VALLEY

Head Coach: Tony Piconke (3rd season)

Conference: Inter-Valley Conference (South Division)

2021 record: 19-8 (7-5 IVC South)

Returning lettermen: Kylie Rohr - Sr., Utl., .574 average, 8 HRs, 54 hits

Elly Rothenstein - Sr., OF/1B, .590 average, 11 HR 50 RBIs

Maddie Carr - Sr., INF/C, 415 average

Kadence Stutz - Jr., OF., .468 average

Susan Thompson - Sr., C/INF, .342 average

Top newcomers: Maysa Brown - So., P

Leah Wright - So., INF

Emma Rennicker - So., INF

Charity Ramser - Sr., OF

Megan Jones - Sr. INF/C

Team Strengths: Our offense. We return the majority of our production this year.

Areas of Improvement: We need to develop some more pitching talent. We need to stay humble and understand this is a new year and everyone is starting off with a clean slate.

Conference Outlook: Indian Valley, Garaway, Claymont all have a lot of talent coming back. Whoever performs best in the pitching circle will have a good shot at the league title.

WEST HOLMES

Head Coach: Steve Frank

Conference: Ohio Cardinal Conference

2021 record: 5-21 (2-10 OCC, 4th place)

Returning lettermen: Kenzie Woods - So., SS/3B

Avery Yoder - Sr., 3B/1B

Keegan Uhl - So.., 2B/OF

Kali Woods - So., OF

Peyton Carathers - So., OF

Felicity Cline - 1B/P

Addison Yoder - So., P

Top newcomers: Jocelyn Lucas - SO/OF

Addison Christine - Fr., C

Maddie Clark - Fr.

Ally Ogi - Sr., 2B

Meghan Casey - Sr., C

Team Strengths: Solid on defense, speed

Areas of Improvement: Consistent hitting (up and down last year); Pitching

Conference Outlook: Mount Vernon, Mansfield Madison