Vikings look to maintain high level of play while retooling

Teays Valley Vikings Softball
Derrick Hastler
2022 record: 23-2, 14-0 Mid-State League Buckeye Division champions
Key returnees: Sydney Manring, pitcher; Reagan Mengerink, catcher; Alyssa Brown, shortstop; Michelle Brumfield, third base and catcher; Morgan Cantrell, center field and utility; Kenzie Carte, outfield; Ari Miles, outfield
Key newcomers: Micah Mann, infield; Aimee DeWeese, utility; Alyvia Lawrentz, pitcher and utility; Alyvia Lawrentz, pitcher and utility; Abbi Revalee, outfield and utility; Isabel Sayre, pitcher and first baseman
Key losses: Kennedy Cauger, first baseman; Kadance Fraley, third base and designated player; Emma Helwagen, center field; Faith Thompson, left field; Lauren Park, right field and Madison Cline, pitcher

Teays Valley will retool its starting lineup this season after losing five starters and co-pitcher Madison Cline from last year’s Mid-State League Buckeye Division championship team that garnered a fifth seed in the Division I Central District tournament and was upset 1-0 in a district semifinal by Olentangy.

The Vikings return sophomore pitcher Sydney Manring, who split innings with Cline last season, and senior catcher Reagan Mengerink behind the plate. Junior Michelle Brumfield will also see some time catching the staff and play third baseman.

“Sydney has the pitches and the physical ability, but she has harnessed her control and also matured in the circle following her first varsity season,” coach Derrick Hastler said. “Sydney has a competitive streak that is something to watch when she is locked in and just attacks the hitters.

“Reagan has a tremendous level of experience and with that a high softball IQ. She is able to translate that into a calm demeanor and great on-field leadership. She is a good hitter and receiver behind the plate. Michelle brings versatility on defense and grittiness at the plate. She catches on her summer ball team, so we’ll have her get some innings behind the plate this season to spell Reagan and also play third base when she isn’t behind the plate.

Hastler noted that pitchers Alyvia Lawrentz and Isabel Sayre should also see some innings in the circle.

“Alyvia has a really high ceiling, has a solid bat, plays well on defense anywhere she is needed,” he said. “Isabel is an intelligent and crafty pitcher with great movement. We’re also looking for her to bring an element of power to our offense.”

Senior shortstop Alyssa Brown and junior center fielder Morgan Cantrell are prominent bats and defenders returning to the lineup.

“Alyssa is one of the most competitive people we have had in the program, because she is tenacious, unyielding and plays a solid shortstop. Her leadership in the middle of the field is a key for our success,” Hastler said. “Morgan is an outstanding player with great skills. She played second base as a freshman and sophomore but will be moving “home” to center this season.”

Seniors Kenzie Carte and Ari Miles should see some playing time in the corner outfield spots.

“Kenzie is working to be more consistent at the plate. She can always be counted on to play hard and give tremendous effort,” Hastler said. “Ari is an outstanding teammate and will look to many an impact in any way possible.”

Freshman Micah Mann can be plugged in on the infield and sophomore Aimee DeWeese can play a number of positions.

“Micah is working to adjust to the varsity level, but she has a great deal of versatility in the infield and some potential to help with her bat,” Hastler noted. “Aimee is also adjusting to the varsity level but is quite an athlete and able to do a great range of things. She is unbelievably coachable and makes all the little adjustments we ask of her.”

Overall, Hastler believes the Vikings will trade some power for speed and versatility this season.

“We’re going to be a little more balanced than last year, with more athleticism from top-to-bottom of the lineup and we’ll look to be more aggressive in moving runners and stealing bases,” he said. “We don’t have quite as much power as we did last season, but I think we will make more contact and, again, have the ability to move runners more.

“Over the course of the season, as some of our girls get used to the varsity game, I think we have the potential to develop a little more power.”

Hastler noted the chemistry that the Vikings have displayed so far during the preseason.

“We have a really good group of girls that enjoy joking around and poking fun at each other in a good way,” he said. “We have really good chemistry and our returning seniors have stepped up and are leading the team.”

Hastler has crafted another tough schedule for the Vikings that includes returning regional champion Watkins Memorial and perennial district powers Lancaster and Marysville, in addition to some other games against Ohio Capital Conference foes.

“This is probably one of the toughest schedules we’ve had since I’ve been here,” he said. “We have a young team, but we are taking the approach of throwing them into the fire and showing them what we need to do to get to the level we want to get at.

“It starts with our league, which is always really competitive and strong at softball. Circleville should be solid, Logan Elm has a pretty good freshman pitcher and some other strong players and then you always have to watch out for teams like Bloom-Carroll and Fairfield Union.”

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