Tigers ready to become contenders

Circleville Tigers Softball
Dave Truex
2022 record: 15-7, 8-6 third in Mid-State League Buckeye Division
Key returnees: Senior Cara Cooper, shortstop; senior Chandler Hayes, catcher and pitcher; junior Gabby McConnell, pitcher and outfield; junior Ella Michael, second base; senior Gracie Riddick, outfield; senior Hope Seiler, outfield; senior Allie Jones, outfield; senior Katie Folkes, first base; senior Alyssa Liston, infield and outfield
Key newcomers: Freshman Claire Davis, infield and outfield; freshman Audrey Cowdery, pitcher and outfield; freshman Kayla Fleck, pitcher; sophomore Lexi Kidwell; freshman Anna Keaton; freshman Drew Hoskins; sophomore Kyndall Daniels; freshman Allie Mullins; sophomore Summer Blair; junior Amaya Fauver, sophomore Biz Cummings

Circleville took a significant step in the right direction a season ago, improving from four wins in 2021 to going 15-7 last year and earning a district tournament berth.

With nine returning lettermen and additional depth to utilize, the Tigers want to become contenders this season in both the Mid-State League Buckeye Division and Southeast District.

Senior Cara Cooper, an All-Ohio selection last season at shortstop, and senior catcher Chandler Hayes, an all-district honoree, headline returning players for the Tigers. Junior Gabby McConnell, who earned second team all league honors, is back in the circle.

“I like that we should be fairly strong up the middle with Gabby and Chandler as our pitcher and catcher, Cara Cooper and Ella Michael in the middle infield, who are like having two shortstops playing together, and then we have Gracie Riddick back patrolling center field,” coach Dave Truex said.

The Tigers were limited in their pitching options last season with McConnell and Hayes, but add freshmen Kayla Fleck and Audrey Cowdery to the mix for additional depth this year.

“Softball teams are using more pitchers than they used to, so it’s nice to have some additional options if we want to give Gabby a break or if she is having an off night,” Truex said. “We also have the option this season to change pitchers and still have Chandler behind the plate.

“Gabby is our leader in the circle and she put some work in during the offseason to develop more movement on her pitches and added a couple of additional pitches to go with her fastball and changeup.”

Truex believes the Tigers should have a deeper lineup this season and be able to apply more pressure to their opposition.

“We bring back some pretty good hitters, like Cara and Chandler, some of our other girls have worked to only get better and then we add a couple of sticks that we like to the mix,” he said. “The key is to hit together and be consistent. We also feel like we have some decent power from four-to-five girls in the lineup.”

Truex is excited to see what the Tigers are capable of this season and how much of a next step they can take.

“It all comes back to playing fundamentally sound, playing within ourselves and being consistent at the plate and in the field,” he said. “If we can do those things, then I think we have the potential to have a fun season.”

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