By Rob Kiser
Dan Cain is just ready to get it started.
Which the Edison State softball coach — a coaching veteran for Miami County’s high school teams, most recently at Troy and Troy Christian — will have to wait at least another day for.
The Chargers, fielding a softball team for the first time in more than 30 years, will open the season Sunday at OSU-Chillicothe after Friday and Saturday’s games were postponed. The home opener is scheduled for Tuesday.
“That’s the thing, we just need to play,” Cain said. “Cuyahoga and Sinclair both went to Florida and played some games since they got back. We just need to get out there and play together. I think Edison had a team in the early 80s. I am pretty sure this team is going to break the school record for wins in a season.”
The Chargers did play 10 games in the fall.
“But, we have added some kids like Lexie Long (Covington) and Tori Smith (Bradford), so it is a different team,” Cain said. “We played Division III teams in the fall and went 5-5. We played everybody in most of those games.”
The Charger pitching staff will include Lexi Romine (Greenon), Alexis Ontrop (St. Henry), Smith and Long.
“I do feel good about the pitching,” Cain said. “Lexi Romine and Alexis Ontrop were both workhorses for the their teams. Tori Smith was a workhorse at Bradford, even though she hasn’t played for a couple years. Lexie (Long) wasn’t a workhorse, but she has looked really good in practice.”
Mackenzie Smith (Graham) will be the catcher, with Rayna Brownlee (Piqua) and Stephanie School (Mississinawa Valley) seeing action back there.
“Mackenzie Smith was my first recruit,” Cain said. “She has a lot of intensity and is a vocal leader. She is a good hitter and good defensive catcher.”
The infield will vary, depending on who is pitching.
Long and Scholl will see time at third base, Brownlee, Romine and Long will see time at shortstop, Smith and Brownelee will see time at second base and Ontrop, Lauren Baughn (Greenville), Scholl and Brownlee will see time at first base.
“A lot just depends on who is pitching,” Cain said. “Rayna (Brownlee) is such a versatile player, she can play anywhere but pitcher. She is going to bat lefthanded for us and is really hitting the ball well. Stephanie School is another versatile player who can play anywhere. It gives us a lot of options.”
Two outfield positions are set with Emma Miller (Wapakoneta) and Justice Warner (Covington).
“Right now, we have Emma Miller in left and Justice Warner in center,” Cain said. “That could flip. Both of them were centerfielders in high school whose role was to chase everything down. So, they could be bumping in to each other out there until they get used to playing with each other.”
Seeing action in rightfield will be Cydney Adams (Missisisnawa Valley), Katie Poteet (Troy Christian) and Paige Neargarder (Mississinawa Valley).
“Cydney Adams hasn’t played in a couple years, but she has looked good and is a coaches daughter,” Cain said. “Katie (Poteet) was an assistant one year for me at Troy Christian. She gives us power. Paige Neargarder had never played the game before the fall. She has really improved. It is great having three kids from Mississinawa Valley.”
Cain knows the conference will be tough, but feels like the Chargers can be right in there.
The other teams in the OCCAC are Cuyahoga, Lakeland and Sinclair.
“Clark State and Lorain will be back next year,” Cain said. “The other teams are all good. Cuyahoga has to be the favorite, Lakeland is good and so is Sinclair. They have a pitcher from Lebanon, who could have gone Division I. But, our kids aren’t going to be in awe of anyone.
“We have a lot of players from the CBC — their pitching is strong ever year. The Covington girls have faced the Williamsburg pitcher and other girls have seen good pitching. People are going to see, we can play.”
Cain likes the team he has put together.
Poteet, Adams, Neargarder and School are sophomores, the rest are freshman.
“We have a lot of versatile kids,” he said. “And I can tell you, wherever Lexie Long is, she is going to be one of the best athletes out there. It gives me options (recruiting). I can get people who fit the program and it won’t always be the best player.
“We want kids with good attitudes. This is an awesome group of kids and they are willing to play wherever we need them to play.”
Now, it just a matter of getting started.
Rob Kiser can be reached at (937) 451-3334.