Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
It doesn’t seem real, does it?
After COVID-19 forced our area’s athletes to sit last spring out, we’re finally getting back to regular-ish. Sure, there will be masks in the stands. And social distancing is still being required.
But the fact remains that we indeed will have a spring sports season. And that’s the most important detail.
So as we get reacquainted with the softball diamond, here’s a list of 10 players in our coverage area, and in no particular order, to keep an eye on this spring if they get the chance to compete.
NOTE: This certainly does not mean there aren’t other players who will have great seasons. This is simply a list of 10 players we’ve randomly compiled.
Boo Sturgill, Wheelersburg
Carson-Newman is getting one heck of a player in Boo Sturgill. But before she turns to the collegiate ranks, she’s got one year left at Wheelersburg to do something prolific. She’s always dangerous at the plate and she’s also one of the better fielders in the area. Boo is one of those players where, when she steps into the batter’s box, you expect something special to happen.
Suzzy Wall, Waverly
If you’re looking for a player that eats, sleeps and breathes softball, it’s Wall. With the rare combination of speed and power at the plate, Wall will be a headache for each of the Tigers’ foes. She can play third, short or behind the plate. She knows how to work the count, get the pitch she’s looking for and drop a bomb. She’ll be one of Waverly’s top-notch hitters.
Taylor Evans, Jackson
Two years ago, Evans was the FAC Player of the Year. Two years later, she’s the favorite to win that honor again. The Ironladies are 18-2 in the FAC and have won two straight conference crowns with Evans in the circle. It will take a monster effort to change that trend. Evans is better than she’s ever been. She has been and will be one of the area’s top flamethrowers.
Andi Blevins, Minford
Blevins is one of the area’s grittiest competitors and that won’t change during her senior year. The Rio Grande commit and left-handed contact hitter has been through the ringer during her high school career. But each time she faces hardship, she uses it as motivation to get better. She’s the Falcons’ unquestioned leader and will set the tone offensively throughout the year.
Megan Miller, Unioto
Most of the area’s casual softball fans have probably never heard of Megan Miller. And that will surely change at an impressive pace. The Shermans’ starting shortstop, as a freshman, will quickly become one of the SVC’s most feared hitters. In her first varsity at-bat during her first varsity scrimmage, she took the first pitch she saw deep. That’s an indication of what’s to come.
Olivia Dumm, Westfall
You heard it here first … Westfall’s softball program is still going to be as tough as ever. The Mustangs lost a slew of talent from two seasons ago but a band of new faces will have them competing for a league title. Dumm leads that group from the circle. Oh, she can hit. Like really hit. With movement on her pitches and power in her bat, she’s a name you need to know.
Jenna Johnston, Wellston
If you’ve never seen Johnston play, you’re in for a treat. Possessing bat speed and power that few in Southern Ohio have, she’s a base hit and potential home run waiting to happen. Think about this; she was the TVC Offensive Player of the Year … as a freshman. She has that type of talent, and is only getting better. She’s worth any and every price of admission.
Carly Dyer, Huntington
Dyer has made significant contributions to both Huntington’s volleyball and basketball programs. But softball? That may be her best sport. She was primed for a breakout season as a sophomore. Now that she’s had to wait for a year to show what she’s capable of, you can expect big things. She’ll be in the middle of a lineup that has the potential to be dangerous.
Sidney Payton, Miami Trace
The junior is a wizard with the bat in her hands. While she has the ability to hit for power, she can also drop base hits in every part of the outfield green. She has next-level plate discipline and embraces pressure with runners in scoring position. Most opposing pitchers won’t be able to offer something that Payton can’t clobber. Trust us, you’ll be reading her name … a lot.
Nataya Richards, West
As a freshman, Richards started as the Senators’ shortstop and hit near the top of the order. After last year’s layoff, she’ll be more determined than ever to build on the success she had. She’s one of the area’s best with a glove and her speed will allow her to swipe bases with ease. While acquiring frequent flyer miles on the base paths, she’ll emerge as one of West’s leaders.