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Spartans favored to win districts

March 29, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

It was heartbreaking when Boardman's softball team lost the 2017 district championship to conference rival Canfield.

Although it may have taken a while for the Lady Spartans to squash the bad memories from that 4-2 setback, their emotions have now spun in a positive direction because once again they are one of the favorites to win districts. Boardman only graduated three seniors from last season's successful squad so it is primed to battle fellow favorites Poland, Austintown Fitch, Howland and Canfield in the All American Conference Red Tier. The two matches against the Lady Cardinals later this spring are the pair that the Spartans have certainly circled on their 2018 slate. Taking down the loaded defending division champs is paramount if the Spartans are to ascend to the top of the Red Tier this year. Canfield captured two of the three games the schools faced each other in last season, including that disappointing district tilt for the Spartans. Boardman will battle through this difficult conference with a team that is low on seniors, but high on seasoned underclassmen.

"We return quite a few letter winners," said head coach Mike Trell a few days before his team was to embark on a season opening road trip to Myrtle Beach. "Experience will not be an issue."

Article Photos

Photos by Jim McCreary, Town Crier

Freshman pitcher Kathryn O'Horo throws during warm-ups prior to an inter-squad softball scrimmage on March 23.

The two twelfth-graders on the Boardman roster are catcher Paige Dill and outfielder Gloria Hynes. Dill has been doing her thing behind the dish in Boardman for what seems like forever. She is a leader on defense, in the lineup and, most importantly, off the field. Hynes had a great junior season and will be counted on to get even better in her final high school campaign. She will join Dill as the two mentors to the rest of the roster.

What stands out on this Spartan squad is the amount of talented juniors that have been slugging the ball since the start of their sophomore seasons. That terrific group is made up of third baseman Brooke Hoffman, outfielders Vanessa Roush and Logan Menosky and infielders Alicia Saxton and Ashley Saxton. That quintet all lettered last season as did Jenny Taraszewski, who will be expected to fill a huge void in the pitching circle. The junior threw a lot of pitches as a sophomore and this year Taraszewski will have to eat up even more innings in order to replace the graduated Lauren Gabriele and Ashley Cornelius.

There are three more juniors that should all contribute mightily in 2018. That trio is first baseman Lauren Commarata, second baseman Carina Cummings and infielder Jersey Gorby. Sophomore catcher/infielder Lauren Maughn and sophomore infielder/outfielder Sydney Hughes will also get a chance to start on occasion. Coach Trell is also forecasting some fantastic things from a large contingent of freshmen. Two of those rookies are pitchers Grace Beil and Kathryn O'Horo, who will both be needed to help Taraszewski in the rotation. Morgan Cherne, McKenzie Melendez, Chaylse Norvell and Nina Scavelli are some other new names to keep an eye on. Calle Ipson is a foreign exchange student from Germany that is trying her hand on the diamond too.

"We expect these girls to see action at various levels," said Trell.

The veteran coach also expects his team to put a lot of crooked numbers on the scoreboard. Offense will be a strength of this Spartan squad as it was a season ago.

"We have a powerful lineup that will score runs," Trell said.

Of course, Boardman's bats were backed by veteran pitching last year. It'll need Taraszewski to step up in the circle, as well as a couple the younger arms, in order to clip the pesky Cardinals and the rest of Red Tier.

"We have good pitching that I think can keep us in games," said Trell. "We will have to be relatively mistake free to have the season we want to have."



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