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Boardman girls have chance to be great in 2020

March 25, 2020
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Fred Mootz's first season as Boardman head softball coach ended up being a successful one.

The Lady Spartans went 19-8 and finished right behind Fitch in the All American Conference standings. They shut out rival Canfield 6-0 in the Solon District sectional championship before being shut out themselves by top-seeded Hudson in the district round. Coach Mootz felt that although his rookie season did have a lot of ups, that loss to the Lady Explorers could have been avoided.

"We could have done a few things differently (against Hudson)," Mootz said. "We had a great year we just fell a little short in the conference and the district. (That's why) I'm optimistic for this season."

One enormous reason for Mootz's enthusiasm is the overall ability his girls possess.

"We're young, but I feel good about our talent," said the coach. "We're super excited. We are blessed with where we are at."

Boardman is doubly blessed on the bump. That's where starting pitchers Kathryn O'Horo and Madi Lester can be found. Both hurlers were heroic on the hill last season and will be counted upon heavily to continue their conquests. O'Horo is a junior letter winner who was one of the leaders of Boardman's staff in 2019. She should be the number one starter that Mootz turns to in 2020.

"(O'Horo) has had a great summer," said the coach. "She should have a great year. I feel good about our pitching."

Sophomore Lester had a great season as a freshman pitcher last year and she will get plenty of opportunities to continue her budding high school career. Both O'Horo and Lester will also see time at third base. Whichever Spartan is starting will have the luxury of throwing to an exceptional backstop. Back behind the plate this year is senior Lauren Maughan who is equally adept at calling a game as she is swinging a bat.

"(Maughan) is our only senior but she's a good one," Mootz said. "She's one of the best catchers in the league."

The other players mentioned by Mootz as most likely starters are junior first baseman Nina Scavelli, junior left fielder Morgan Cherne, sophomore shortstop Jenna Olexa, sophomore right fielder/second baseman Dana Haus, sophomore center fielder Sofia Hoffman and sophomore infielder Nadia Rawhneh. That's a large batch of non-seniors on the roster, but it's not a green group by any means.

"We threw a lot of girls to the wolves last year, so they have experience," Mootz said.

The second year manager is also planning to put more youngsters into the lineup this season too. They are all sophomores led by the trio of center fielder Josie Porter, shortstop Samantha Hoffman and left fielder Jenna Madick.

"They will play a big role for us," Mootz said.

First baseman Cassidy Bryan and right fielder Bella Eliser should also find themselves in the mix before the season concludes. When that season starts is still up in the air. The recent national emergency has postponed all high school sports until at least the first week of April. There probably won't be any softball until at least April 11 meaning some tough early season games for the Spartans may be scrapped. Highlights on this season's slate include two games against Poland and contests versus former state champions Champion and Louisville. Those meetings should have the Spartans prepared for stern challenges in the Solon District against the likes of reigning district champ Solon and Hudson. The toughest competition Boardman will face inside the AAC will be defending champion Fitch and league rival Canfield. There will be a pair of matches each against those schools if everything on the calendar remains status quo.

"Our conference is always tough," Mootz said. "The district is tough, but I think we can make a good run at the district title."



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