By Josh Brown
MIAMI COUNTY — One last look at the spring ahead before it actually begins.
With some of Saturday’s opening-day activites being postponed ahead of time on Friday afternoon, it may be a couple of days before softball season truly gets going. But here are a look at five of the things to watch for over the next couple months on Miami County’s diamonds.
1. Can anyone in the North unseat Greenville?
Greenville has won the at least a share of the division championship every season since joining the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division in 2011, only sharing it twice. After sharing the title with Troy and Piqua two seasons ago, the Green Wave went 15-0 in the division’s first season as the GWOC American League North. Tippecanoe finished second with a 12-3 record, and Troy and Sidney tied for third at 10-5.
Tippecanoe graduated a lot of talent, including the American North Athlete of the Year in Katy Stocker. Troy returns the majority of its starting lineup, but Greenville run-ruled the Trojans in both games last year. What will it take to knock the Wave out of first place?
2. Can Covington return to the regional?
After three consecutive trips to the Division IV state semifinal round in 2011, 2012 and 2013, the Buccaneers have only reached the regional tournament once, falling in the semifinal to Triad in 2015. The Buccs went 18-8 last season, falling in the district final 9-0 to Williamsburg, and in 2016 it was a 2-0 district final loss to Georgetown that ended Covington’s season. And first-year head coach Phil Smith has already made clear that one of the Buccs’ goals is to return to the district final and break through once again to the regional. Can they put it all together by season’s end and pull it off?
3. Will Kadel’s return help Miami East?
Well, fine, the answer to this question is obviously yes. The Vikings have struggled in his two-year absence, but last season the team went winless, setting that bar for improvement as low as it gets. But with the return of coach Brian Kadel, who coached the team to a pair of Cross County Conference titles and a number of regional tournament appearances, the Vikings are sure to put some crooked numbers in the win column this year. The only real question is just how many.
4. Who will win the CCC?
Speaking of Covington, the Buccs were one of two Miami County teams and one of four teams overall to claim a share of the CCC championship last year. Covington, the Newton Indians, Arcanum and National Trail all finished with 10-2 records in the league. It was the fourth time in five years that Covington had claimed at least a share of the title, and with Newton winning two and Miami East three before that, there has been only two seasons since 2007 that Miami County teams did not win at least a share of the crown.
The CCC is always highly competitive, and this season looks to be no different. Will Miami County continue its dominance? Or can someone else surprise and sneak away with the title?
5. How much of a factor will the weather be?
Well, it’s already a factor. Saturday was meant to be opening day for a number of area teams, but some had already postponed their openers by Friday afternoon as the forecast for Saturday, which had called for snow earlier in the week, changed seemingly minute by minute. And with rain in the forecast for most of opening week in the final week of March, things aren’t looking great heading into April.
Spring in Ohio seems to be one of the most unpredictable forces in the world. How much will it allow area softball teams to play this year?
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.