Last year was a season of firsts for a few area softball teams.
As in Elmwood made its first trip to the state tournament.
Patrick Henry ventured into regional competition for the first time.
And Carey won its first Midland Athletic League championship.
With a new season comes high hopes to take giant strides like those squads did last season.
Elmwood is coming off its best season as the Royals cranked out a 29-2 record and reached the Division III state tournament. The Royals were beaten by eventual state champion Hebron Lakewood 5-0 in the semifinals.
Freshman Marissa Lee was forced into action in that game as standout pitcher Brittany Dauterman was sidelined with a broken pitching arm. Lee was 8-2 last season and pitched the regional championship game. Lee only allowed two earned runs in the state tournament game and five hits.
Lee is obviously back for Elmwood as are eight other letterwinners for coach Matt Hoiles, Matt Hoiles, who enters his ninth year with a 198-69 record.
Carey lost 10 seniors from last year’s MAL championship team, which fashioned a 17-7 overall record and 8-2 league mark. The 17 wins tied the school record for victories. Four letterwinners return for Eric Mulholland.
Patrick Henry rang up a 21-8 record and reached the Division IV regional. The Patriots lost 11-0 to Antwerp in the regional, but Patrick Henry did not submit information on this season’s team.
No information was received from the following schools: Ada, Hardin Northern, Leipsic, McComb, Kalida and Patrick Henry.
HEAD COACH: Katie Risner (1st year).
2008 RECORD: 12-10 overall, 6-2 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Courtney Garcia, jr., SS/P; Kendal Moses, soph., P/3B; Mandy Minard, soph., 2B; Hannah Barger, soph., OF; Rachelle Palmer, soph., 1B; Jenna Mock, soph., SS/OF; Lexis Fleegle, soph., 3B.
NOTABLE: Risner takes over the program from former coach Jake Trevino who stepped down at the end of last season. The Redskins could challenge for the BVC title.
HEAD COACH: Gregg Feller (6th year, 68-44).
2008 RECORD: 13-10 overall, 7-1 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Amber Gast, sr., IF; Carrie Darnell, sr., IF; Mary Price, jr., OF; Shaunie Rettig jr., IF/P; Cristyn Scarbrough, sr., OF; Rochelle Lovelace, sr., OF; Alex Myers, sr., OF; Bailey Streib, jr., IF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Tina Brunswick, soph., IF; Madison Simons, soph., IF; Abby Streib, soph., IF/P; Jessica Hunter, fr., IF; Katee Johnson soph., IF.
NOTABLE: Junior Shaunie Rettig was a solid pitcher for the Red Devils in 2008 with a 1.88 ERA and 79 strikeouts. Senior Amber Gast hit .349 and knocked in 23 runs.
HEAD COACH: Kimberly Shearn (3rd year).
2008 RECORD: 1-20 overall, 0-10 Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jenna Kizer, sr., 3B/OF; Ashley Aldrich, sr., OF; Kortney Krotzer, sr., P/IF; Brittany Twigg, jr., C; Ashley Arriaga, jr., 2B; Kendra Kosta, jr., SS/P; Alyssa Dymond, sopg., P/IF; Monica Shriver, soph., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Linsey Gomez, jr., C; Alesha Smith, soph., OF; Tasha Kipps, fr., IF; Brianna Twigg, fr., OF.
NOTABLE: Defense will be the key for the Bobcats, who have 12 players on the roster. Eight have previous varsity experience.
HEAD COACH: Dan Gillett (8th year, 73-96).
2008 RECORD: 12-10 overall.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Ashley Bowyer sr., SS; Chelsea Wheeler, sr., SS/P; Kristen McKamey, sr., 3B/CF; Heather May, jr., C; Lauren Emans, jr., OF; Shanna McKamey, soph., OF/P; Brianne Laing, soph., 2B; Molly Lengyl, soph., OF.
NOTABLE: Seniors Chelsea Wheeler and Kristen McKamey will be expected to lead the Pirates. Wheeler hit .362 with 18 RBI's and McKamey hit .355 and scored a team high 18 runs in 2008.
HEAD COACH: Eric Mullholand (97-65).
2008 RECORD: 17-7 overall, 8-2 Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Tessa Kelbley, jr., P/OF; Lacie Sherman, soph., C/OF; Morgan Draper, soph., SS; Courtney Holsinger, sr., 3B.
TOP PROSPECTS: Haley Johnson, soph., P/1B; Hillary Crawford, jr., 1B/OF; Lindsey Bach, sr., 2B; Leah Ritter, soph., UT; DeeDee Christy, sr., OF; Gennie Mathias, sr., OF.
NOTABLE: Carey graduated 10 seniors from last year's club that won the school's first MAL championship and tied the school record for wins.
HEAD COACH: Jim Wagner (4th year).
2008 RECORD: 13-7 overall.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jodi Birkemeier, jr., IF; Kristy Birkemeier, sr., 1B; Breanne Schroeder, jr., C; Ashley Birchmeier, jr., 1B; Paige Gerdeman, jr., SS.
NOTABLE: Columbus Grove's program is only five years old but the Bulldogs made some big strides last season by winning a sectional title and finishing second behind powerful Convoy Crestview in the NWC.
HEAD COACH: Tim Eding & Jordan Streicher (5th year, 40-45).
2008 RECORD: 17-6 overall, 5-1 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jessica Brown, sr., OF; Janelle Doenges, sr., OF; Jessica Hanefeld, sr., P; Brooke Tegenkamp, sr., SS; Megan Terhark, sr., IF; Marlene Bradley, jr., OF; Kyleigh Holtsberry, jr., IF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Stephanie Burke, soph.; Whitney Ellerbrock, soph.; Cambria Grimer, soph.; Brittany Noia, soph.
NOTABLE: Pirates return five senior letterwinners including Jessica Hanefeld and Marlene Bradley, who both earned first team PCL honors.
HEAD COACH: Bruce Purcell (1st year).
2008 RECORD: 7-12 overall, 1-7 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Gloria Basinger, sr., C; Melissa Wiess, sr., 2B; Lauren Rettig, jr., 1B; Kayla Rossman, soph., P; Nicole Lawrence, soph., LF; Hallie Snodgrass, soph., CF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Ashley Canella, jr.; Rachel Gary, soph.; Devin Cline, so,; Courtney Ritter, fr.; Kresana Ward, fr.; Morgan Woodward, fr.; Carly Marshall, fr.
NOTABLE: Senior catcher Gloria Basinger returns after hitting. 419 and earning second-team BVC honors.
HEAD COACH: Matt Hoiles (9th year, 198-69).
2008 RECORD: 29-2 overall, 14-0 Southern Lakes League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kristi Chapman, sr., 2B; Kelsey Feasel, sr., UTIL; Megan Oler, sr., RF; Emily Reynolds, jr., 3B; Vanessa Schwind, jr., 1B; Samantha Pollard, jr., SS; Shelby George, jr., UTIL; Marissa Lee, soph., P; Morgan Arnold, soph., C.
TOP PROSPECTS: Alex Donaldson, soph., UTIL; Lindsey Clark, soph., P; Amanda Peters, soph., CF; Stephanie Barringer, fr., LF.
NOTABLE: Watch out for the Elmwood in 2009. The Royals return nine letterwinners from a team that captured a regional title. Seniors Megan Oler, Kelsy Feasel, Kristi Chapman and junior Emily Reynolds each earned second team SLL honors.
HEAD COACH: Gabe Sierra (4th year, 46-34).
2008 RECORD: 21-8 overall, 12-2 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Keri Seel, sr., P; Melanie Nye, jr., 1B/P; Taylor Newlove, jr., C; Aja Hall, jr., IF; Raina White, soph., IF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Genee Keels, jr, IF; Morgan Manns, sr., OF; Megan Manns, soph., OF; Samantha Goddard, jr, OF/C.
NOTABLE: The Redmen only have one senior letterwinner returning off of last years successful team. But that one senior is Keri Seel, a pitcher who earned first team NOL honors, while setting the school record with 201 strikeouts and a 1.22 ERA.
HEAD COACH: DeAnna King (1st year).
2008 RECORD: 16-11 overall, 6-4 Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jessica Lynch, sr., OF; Samantha Siebenaller, sr., 2B; Meghan Scherger, soph., SS.
TOP PROSPECTS: Allie Bishop, sr., OF; Katie Britton, sr., 1B; Chelsey Bloom, jr., SS/P; Alex Hossler, jr., P/IF; Elizabeth Bentz, jr., 1B; Morgan Hill, jr., OF; Alyssa Cleveland, jr., OF; Taylor Bishop, soph., C; Annie Fruth, soph., OF; Jocelyn Black, soph., 3B/SS; Eva Tanner, fr., IF.
NOTABLE: The Chieftains were a win away from a trip to the regional tournament. Lynch led the way at the plate with 4 home runs and 19 RBI.
HEAD COACH: Sarah Simon (1st year).
2008 RECORD: 4-19 overall, 0-14 Suburban Lakes League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kelly Gwiner, sr., P; Alicia Bickford, sr., C; Samantha Graber, sr., 3B; Jessica Chalfin, sr., IF; Brianne Nonnemaker, jr., 3B; Mackenzie Brewer, jr., OF; Hannah Podach, jr., SS; Rachel Hoffman, jr., 1B; Amber Bickford, soph., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Abby Durst, fr., P/OF; Jessica Hoffman, fr., UT; Kaela Wiseman, fr., P/OF.
NOTABLE: Lakota was winless in the SLL last season. It's the Raiders' last league go-round before moving to the Midland Athletic League next season.
HEAD COACH: Jeff Craig (13th year, 177-93).
2008 RECORD: 9-11 overall, 6-2 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kara Marshall, jr., C; Drew Dottsa, sr., OF; Katy Glick, sr., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Tiffany Bennett, sr., 3B/OF; Kirstie Bond, sr., 3B/OF; Karissa Terhark, sr., OF/1B; Ashley Stamper, jr., P/1B/OF; Liz Fife, soph., P/OF/IF.; Annie Black, soph., OF; Marina Hackford, soph, 2B/OF/C; Alissa Hunker, soph., 3B; Erin Hackworth, fr., OF/IF; Kate Schimmoeller, fr., OF/IF/C; Kelsey Dager, fr., SS; Taylor Stamper, fr., 2B/3B; Ciana Mottola, soph., 3B.
NOTABLE: The Eagles have become a periennial BVC contender under Craig, but they will be inexperienced heading into the season with just three returning letterwinners.
HEAD COACH: Nick Shoop (3rd year, 22-22).
2008 RECORD: 12-10 overall, 5-3 Blanchard Valley Conference
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Rachel Barker, soph., 1B; Chelsea Cramer, sr., C; Ellie Hammond, jr., LF/2B; Leslee Kettels, sr., C/RF; Ashley Latta, sr., SS; Michelle Metzger, sr., 3B; Alycia Nichols, sr., 2B/OF; Alex Smith, sr., CF/P; Erin Wells, sr., P/1B.
TOP PROSPECTS: Abbie Joy, fr., P/IF; Haylie Haas, soph., SS; Susan Rader, jr., 3B; Morgan Brown, sr., RF; Stephanie Kepling, soph.; Lindsay Landuersicht, sr.; Morgan Ridge, soph.; Mallory Schaffner, soph.; Kendra Wilson, fr.
NOTABLE: Panthers are senior laden with seven returning letterwinners in the class. Erin Wells leads the way after earning first-team BVC honors.
HEAD COACH: Emily Haselman (1st year).
2008 RECORD: Not available
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Carri Griggs, sr., C; Lindsay Pester, sr., 3B; Marci Wenzinger, sr., P/2B; Trisha Niese, jr., OF; Kayla Schroeder, jr., 1B; Sarah Carpenter, soph., OF' Olivia Rump, soph., SS/2B; Sara Schroeder, soph., OF/1B; Kara Vennekotter, soph., OF/1B.
TOP PROSPECTS: Ali Lammers, fr., SS/2B; Jessica Leis, fr., P; Jessica Nienberg, fr., SS/2B; Marissa Schroeder, fr., P/3B; Taylor Niese, fr., 1B; Toni Steffan, fr., C.
NOTABLE: The Wildcats have had a solid run the past couple of seasons advancing to the regional tournament for the first time in school history. Griggs, Pester and Wenzinger give new coach Emily Haselman a solid nucleus to build around.
HEAD COACH: Jamie Lininger (6th year, 80-49).
2008 RECORD: 18-9 overall, 7-3 Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Lauren Mathias, sr., C/SS/3B; Kaiti Hughes, sr., 1B/3B; Jessica Tiell, sr., C/1B/OF; Beth Miller, sr., OF/1B; Paula Kelbley, jr., OF/1B; Taylor Mathias, jr., P/3B; Sarah Reinhart, jr., 2B/OF; Jami Wagner, jr., OF/2B/SS; JoAnn Borer, soph., C/OF; Danielle Coleman, soph., OF; Kylie Mathias, soph., 2B/OF; Shana Scherger, soph., OF/SS/2B/P.
TOP PROSPECTS: Shelby Hemminger, fr., 2B/OF; Megan Mathias, fr., C/3B; Paige Noftz, fr., 3B/SS/OF/P; Brooke Scherger, fr., SS/2B/P; Holly Tiell, fr., OF; Stacey Wank, fr., 1B/OF.
NOTABLE: The Blue Jackets appear to be loaded with 12 returnees from an 18-9 team that won a district championship. Lauren Mathias, a second team All-Ohio catcher, has committed to play for Findlay next year. The senior batted .478 with 3 HR's, 13 2B's and 38 RBIs last season. Taylor Mathias returns as the ace after notching 18 wins and 143 strikeouts last season, both school records.
HEAD COACH: Frankie Hernandez (2nd year, 18-6).
2008 RECORD: 18-6 overall, 7-3 Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Brittany Vanaman, sr., P/IF; Megan Williams sr, IF; Emily Stewart, soph., IF; Taylor Boyer, so, IF; Leona Euler, soph., IF; Mackenzie Carpenter, soph., OF; Andrea Smith, soph., IF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Ciara Hernandez, soph., OF; Brianna Ferguson, soph., C; Alyssa Pixley, soph., IF; Ashley Miller, soph., OF; Andrea Bankey, soph., OF; Tori Perez, soph., OF; Jessica Frost, fr., P/OF; Alli Baker, fr., OF/P; Alexis Tellez, fr., IF/P.
NOTABLE: Seven letterwinners return after a successful 18-6 season. Vanaman (.366 batting average) and Williams (.353) will be counted on to lead a team with only two upperclassmen.
HEAD COACH: Troy Yant (5th year, 70-35).
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Becky Young, sr., C/3B; Tresa Escamilla, sr., OF; Brooke Kaufman, sr., 1B; Ashley Hempfling, jr., P/SS; Tara Wehri, jr., SS; Amy Maag, jr., OF/2B; Brittany Zynda, jr., 3B; Katie Ruhe, soph., OF; Kylee Pothast, 1B, P, OF; Sara Basinger, so, C/OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Molly Moening, so, OF/2B; Kristin Zender, soph., C/UTIL; Hayley Kitchen, fr., P/SS; Jessie Kreinbrink, fr., SS/OF.
NOTABLE: Ottawa-Glandorf returns 10 lettermen. However, pitcher Tabbie Tousley is gone after breaking career records for innings pitched, strikeouts and wins over four years with the Titans.
HEAD COACH: Connie Rhodes (1st year).
2008 RECORD: Not available.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Adria Wannemacher, sr., SS: Amy Hohlbein, sr., 1B; Sami Modica, jr., P; Brooke Moore, soph., 3B; Taylor Moore, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Krista Schimmoeller, fr., IF; Kelsey Hoersten, fr., IF/OF; Kendra Krouskop, fr., C/IF/OF; Lindsey Eickholt, fr., IF; Angela Keeran, fr., OF; Marissa Nienberg, fr., OF; Krystal Mathews, fr., C.
NOTABLE: Modica was an all-PCL selection last season for the Big Green and is one of four returning letterwinners. Six freshmen help make up Ottoville's 11-player roster.
HEAD COACH: Kurt Mullins (2nd year, 2-20).
2008 RECORD: 2-20 overall, 0-5 Putnam County League; 1-8 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jessica Watkins, jr., OF/P; Jayma George, sr., C/IF/OF; Sarah Fenstermaker, sr., OF; Grace Basinger, soph., UT; Kristyn Hovest, soph., IF; Kate Lewellen, soph., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Aleycia Prater, soph., OF/IF; Ashley Bevins, fr., IF/P; Kerri Hovest, jr., IF; Laura Nemire, fr., IF/OF; Molly Hovest, fr., IF.
NOTABLE: The Rockets will be looking for serious improvement in Mullins second season as head coach. Watkins is the top returning threat on offense as she batted .375 last season as a sophomore.
HEAD COACH: Doug Ebright (4th year, 99-103).
2008 RECORD: 14-9 overall, 8-6 North Central Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kaylee Sheets, sr., P/SS; Alicia Naus, sr., SS/CF; Ashley Naus, sr., C; Amanda Wetherill, jr., 1B/OF; Meghan Borkosky, jr., 2B; Maisea Hicks, sr., 1B/OF; Cheri Schoenberger, jr., 3B/P.
TOP PROSPECTS: Lauren Humphrey, sr., OF; Malory Rodabaugh, jr., OF; Taylor Clark, fr., RF.
NOTABLE: Kaylee Sheets is the top returning player for the Falcons. The senior pitcher and shortstop was 10-5 last year with a 1.33 ERA and batted .398.
HEAD COACH: Theresa Webb (14th year, 175-160).
2008 RECORD: 20-6 overall, 8-2 Midland Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Taylor Burns, jr, CF; Tara Emerine, jr., OF; Lauren Geroski, jr., C/SS; Cassi Papenfus, jr., 3B/1B; Chelcie Rutter, jr., P/2nd; Katelyn Schiefer, soph., P/2B; Leighanne Stahl, soph., 1B/C.
TOP PROSPECTS: Lexie Digby soph., SS/1B; Alisha Weis, soph., OF; Brittany Hargis, soph., OF; Maddie Hoover, soph., 1B; Breanna Kelly, soph., 3B; Veronica Peters, soph., OF/C; Katie Statham, fr., OF.
NOTABLE: There are no seniors on St. Wendelin's roster, but the Mohawks do have some talented juniors. Lauren Geroski, a first team all-district selection, returns after hitting .359. Chelcie Rutter and Cassi Papenfus are also back after earning second team all-district honors.
HEAD COACH: Keith Diebler (2nd year, 12-14).
2008 RECORD: 12-14 overall, 6-8 Northern Ohio League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Allie Cox, soph., C; Olivia Frey, soph., 2B; Logan Meddings, soph., P/OF; Sydney Piecha, soph., OF; Shayteen Wood, soph., IF/1B; Kyla Frey, jr., OF; Emily Graham, jr., OF; Katie Wetherell, sr., IF/SS.
TOP PROSPECTS: Macy Britton, soph., 3B; Lindsey Kessler, soph., UTIL; Rachel Matfix, soph., IF.
NOTABLE: Katie Wetherell, who stole 10 bases last season, is the lone senior on the Rams roster. Sophomore Logan Meddings returns after posting a 1.98 ERA as a freshman.
HEAD COACH: Stacy Sharp (4th year, 35-28).
2008 RECORD: 11-9 overall, 6-2 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Hannah Shank, soph., IF; Laura Thornton, sr., IF; Tabbi Vandersall, soph., OF; Mackenzi Monday, sr., OF; Madi Coldren, soph., IF; Teresa Schultz, soph., IF; Kelly Gilbert, sr., IF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Rachel Adolph, so, IF.; Kalyn Leeper soph., OF; Hannah Benedict fr., IF.
NOTABLE: Van Buren returns only three seniors. Laura Thornton figures to take a leadership roll after batting .349 with 15 RBIs last year while earning second Team BVC honors.
HEAD COACH: Sally Kloepfer (7th year, 25-66).
2008 RECORD: 3-16 overall, 1-7 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jennifer Wagner, sr., P/IF; Brittney Wilcox, sr., C/OF; Dustie Ward, jr., IF/OF; Melissa Hall, soph., UT; Ashley Parsell, soph., IF/UT; Chelsea Shane, soph., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kelsie Thomas, soph., IF/P; Sarah Wagner, soph., IF; Krista Wisner, soph., OF/IF/C; Erin Parsell, sr., IF/OF; Savannah Engard, fr., UT/PO; Brooklyn Gibson, fr., OF/C; Jennifer Hendricks, fr., OF/IF; Sabrina Hesson, fr., UT/P.
NOTABLE: Wagner is back after earning honorable mention all-conference honors with a 4.43 ERA. Ward is the team's top returning hitter with a .387 batting average.