When the Canfield softball team takes the diamond at Hubbard on March 29 to kick off the spring season, it will be loaded with veteran leadership.
A total of nine letterwinners return to wear the red and black in 2011 and with that many seasoned softball players in the fold it is no wonder why head coach Ronie Haurin is excited for that last Tuesday of the month to arrive.
“We eagerly await the opening of the 2011 season,” wrote Haurin in an email. “We are very optimistic about the success of our season.”
Two of the nine returnees to Canfield will be entering their senior seasons. Pitcher/first baseman Carlee Hart helped Canfield capture 17 wins in 2010 with heroic hurling and strong hitting and second baseman Cara Cupler caught the ball well in the infield and clubbed the ball enough to share co-captain honors with Carlee. The dynamic senior duo also acts like a couple more coaches to the younger Cardinals.
“Great leadership skills are a key to success and we definitely have that in our two senior captains,” bragged Haurin. “They have been positive leaders in our preseason conditioning and continue to provide the leadership that is necessary to be a contender.”
Contending for the other starting roles in the Canfield lineup will be junior pitcher Sarah Vrabel, junior catcher Laura Beck, sophomore catcher Sydney Opladen, junior outfielder Gina Mancini, sophomore infielder Abby Baker, sophomore outfielder Kayley Keller and sophomore outfielder Alexa Schmidt. There will also be three new names to Canfield who have very special talents in sophomores Ariana Ellis and Kaci Hyde and freshman Ali Prologo. That trio’s special gifts will be evident in the running game.
“The three newcomers to varsity all have excellent speed and will provide support on the basepaths,” explained Haurin.
Canfield will need a lot of that speed if it is to make a fast rise toward the top of the All American Red Tier this year. Sitting on top of that roost right now is league rival and favorite Poland, but coach Haurin is not afraid to take on the challenge of bringing down the Bulldogs.
“Poland is our toughest league opponent with their star pitcher Erin Gabriel,” Haurin admitted, “but we have two aces (in Hart and Vrabel) and two capable, experienced catchers (Beck and Opladen) to complete the battery. We can make runs in the AAC and the tournament with the competitive schedule that we have and the work ethic that our team displays.”
Part of that grueling schedule will take the Cardinals to Akron to take part in the annual Ohio Invitational that will give them the chance to measure themselves against some of the toughest teams in the state. Canfield will also attend the Prebis Tournament at Keystone High School where it will challenge the host school and the Spring Showcase. Not to mention that sometime down the line a playoff rematch with district champion Boardman could be in the offing. It was the Lady Spartans who shut down Canfield’s season a year ago in the tournament, but Haurin believes her team is poised to advance further in 2011.
“With the positive work ethic and the leadership on our team we will be ready to contend for a District I tournament title this year,” she said sternly.