From the outside looking in it always appeared former Wellsville-Middletown varsity softball coach Sabrina O'Heron and her players had a fairly good relationship, but that's more of an assumption than anything else because while she may have been many things, a great communicator she wasn't.
Now that she's stepped aside and Levi Jacyna has taken over for the Lady Tigers the good news is this program only lost one player to graduation, first baseman Allison Arens. The flip side of that story is several players chose not to return and because this program was already lacking when it came to numbers there was a time when this team didn't have enough athletes to field a squad in 2018-19.
While those issues have been adressed and the team is moving forward, that does leave Jacyna with several questions about Wellsville-Middletown that need to be answered, such as who did he get to replace what's been lost, who chose not to return and why.
"New to the squad this year is Julia Curd. She is a Junior who will play first base for us. I think she can be a solid replacement at first base for us this year," Jacyna said. "Also, we have a new sophomore this year, Kennedy Rentfro. She has good softball experience and will take over third base for us. She has (the) tools to be an all around good player. (She) just needs some more refining."
When it comes to the athletes who were once a part of this program, but are no longer involved, that's a personal journey that comes down to each individual deciding what right for her. Specifically, it's one thing to be a multi-sport athlete by way of competing in multiple sports over the course of the school year, but to accomplish that same feat over the course of the same sports season is much harder.
"Elizabeth Burdick did not return this year. She started (at third base) for us last year. (She) was a great defensive player and another bat we lost in the lineup," said Jacyna. "She decided to focus on Cross Country this year, as it is her main sport. It will hurt us a little, but Kennedy Rentfro, who I already mentioned, will fill those shoes nicely. We also Erin Johnson, who played left field for us. She will a positive person who lifted people up when they are down, and that is just as big a loss as any."
Last year the Lady Tigers finished with a record of 4-14 overall, 1-9 Eastern Missouri Conference. Jacyna's career record has yet to be established, though, because this is his first season as a head coach.
"This year we are focusing on doing the little things right and competing. Last year we struggled with just basics. That won't be a problem this year," Jacyna said. "We have practiced and practiced the fundamentals. We have also been working on our mentality of competing. Being mentally tough is always, and will always be a huge part of the game. The areas we need to focus on the most is just keep focused on the task at hand and doing the little things the right way. The devil is in the details."
Coming back this year for Wellsville-Middletown includes seniors Brooke Peckham, an outfielder. shortstop/pitcher Makaila Stuart and third baseman/pitcher Jacey Sewell. Also returning are sophomores Brooke Lionberger, an outfielder, catcher/infielder Bekah Sewell and infielder Natalie Frank.
"This year I expect us to do better. We have the potential to compete with some schools, and upset some teams if we do the little things right," said Jacyna. "I’m excited to see the girls’ hardwork start paying off."
WELLSVILLE-MIDDLETOWN VARSITY SOFTBALL SCHEDULE 2018-19
DATE OPPONENT BUS LEAVES
8-30 at Clopton 3:00 p.m.
8-31 vs New Haven TBD
9-4 vs Van-Far TBD
9-6 vs North Callaway TBD
9-8 at Knox County TBD
9-10 at Marion County 3:00 p.m.
9-13 vs Louisiana TBD
9-14 at New Bloomfield 3:00 p.m.
9-15 at Cairo 6:00 a.m.
9-17 at Gasconade County R-1 3:00 p.m.
9-18 at Elsberry 2:30 p.m.
9-20 vs Mark Twain TBD
9-22 at Louisiana TBD
9-25 at Montgomery County 3:45 p.m.
9-27 vs Bowling Green 4:30 p.m.
10-1 vs Community R-6 4:30 p.m.
10-2 at Silex 3:00 p.m.
10-4 at Wright City 2:24 p.m.