CLAYTON — After an off year that saw the team post a 16-11 overall and 5-6 conference record in 2017 to finish in last place in the National West Division of the Greater Western Ohio Conference, the Northmont softball team hopes to regain its past glory.
The last time Northmont lost 11 games in a season was 2011 when the team went 19-11 overall. In 2012 the team bounced back to go 10-0 in conference play and 25-4 overall.
Under Coach Kris Mangen, who is 475-145 entering her 23rd season, the Lady Bolts have won 12 league championships, 17 sectional titles, seven district titles and one regional championship. She took over the program in 1996.
This year’s lineup features plenty of returning players that should help bolster Northmont’s success.
One factor working in the team’s favor is a solid lineup of four pitchers that the coaching staff plans to rotate into the starting spot as needed.
“I have four really good pitchers and I am definitely going to be utilizing all of them, utilizing their strengths,” Pitching Coach Breanna Fischer said.
Seniors Cassy Lewis and Sydney Weaver and junior Hannah Seagraves pitch at about the same speed while senior Marissa Bardonaro has a lot of movement on her pitches.
“Mixing those four into the lineup as needed is going to be real helpful,” Fischer noted.
Mangen said it would be a juggling act determining which pitcher would be the best to start on any given day.
Overall the team has seven seniors and two juniors returning from last year’s team.
“I think we are definitely going to be competitive in our division,” Mangen said. “We have a lot of returning talent with a lot of varsity experience. Our pitching staff looks strong. The players are executing well early on. We will see what happens once we get outside on the dirt.”
Mangen feels the team will be solid defensively. The team features two players competing to become first baseman this year; Caroline Stanaway and D.J. Shepherd, both seniors.
Junior Kyra Rottgen and senior Marissa Bardonaro will take turns starting at second with Mangen’s niece Anna Mangen at shortstop and Bardonaro, Seagraves and Weaver will take turns playing third base. Senior Sydney McGilton will start at catcher for the second consecutive year.
The outfield will feature Rottgen, sophomore Kaylee Wood, junior Emily Frantz, senior Emily Bodiker and senior Elanie Prater. Bodiker will also see playing time on the infield.
Mangen is confident this year’s team will improve upon on last year’s record.
“We are going to be better this year than we were last year. I am very confident in saying that,” Mangen said. “We have pitching experience back and as a team we have a lot of confidence. Right now we are executing better more so now than we were last year at this time. I think we are going to be better off this year because we have so much talent and experience back and you can’t really duplicate that year-to-year.”
New additions to the varsity lineup include sophomores Kaylee Wood and Chloe Kautz. Those two along with junior Kassie Kelemen and senior Caroline Stanaway and a possibly a few other players will see action on both the varsity and junior varsity.
“Hopefully after the first two weeks we will have a better grasp of who we think our top nine to 12 players are going to be, but right now it’s hard to tell,” Mangen said. “We’ve spent so much time practicing in the gym it is hard to see.”
The team will play five games in Florida over spring break this week. Those opponents each year have proved to be a great test. The team departs for Ft. Walton Beach on Friday. This year Northmont will face local rival Vandalia-Butler in Florida, Olentangy out of Columbus, Oshkosh North (Wisconsin), Crestview, Florida and Paxton, Illinois.
The team has managed to squeeze in a couple of scrimmages outside this year despite the uncooperative weather, and so far the team has been making solid contact with the bat.
“We’ve had a few outside and the girls are putting their bats on the ball, and it’s not any one player that seems to be the dominant hitter. We don’t have an MVP, but I think we are going to have seven players that I am pretty sure are going to be consistent hitters,” Mangen added.
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@aimmediamidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind