High School softball preview: Shawnee seeking repeat district run

Shawnee High School junior Dani Ross connects with a pitch during a recent scrimmage game against Sidney on March 22 in Springfield. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED
Shawnee High School junior Dani Ross connects with a pitch during a recent scrimmage game against Sidney on March 22 in Springfield. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

SPRINGFIELD — After a Division II district runner-up finish in 2019, the Shawnee High School girls softball team had high hopes last spring — until their season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I feel like we worked so hard away leading up to last year and having it all thrown away was really upsetting,” said Braves senior Reagan Simpson. “It feels really good to be back together with everyone.”

A year later, the Braves are still thinking about the last time they stepped on the field, falling to Monroe 4-0 in a D-II district final game.

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“It was a young team,” said Braves coach Chris Roberts. “Hopefully they’ll grow from that because they had that experience. They’ve been there and they know what it takes to win games in the tournament. I think losing to Monroe the way we did, I think they’re hungry.”

With all but three starters returning this spring, the Braves are already thinking about avenging their loss in the district final. They’re seeking their first district title since 2017.

“I feel like the intensity is a lot higher now this year because we lost last year,” said senior Alise Moneypenny. “We know we’ve got something to prove this year.”

The Braves return six seniors -- Moneypenny, Simpson, Hannah Beers, Taylor Cox, Hannah Haddix and Tori Huxley. Simpson (.397, 24 RBIs) and Beers (13-5, 2.53 ERA) were first team All-Central Buckeye Conference selections in 2019, while Moneypenny (.391, 20 RBI, 2 HR) was a second-team selection and Huxley earned special mention (.364, 21 RBIs, 2 HR). Juniors Dani Ross, Megan Kelly and Ella McCloskey also return from the Braves district runner-up squad.

Shawnee High School senior Hannah Beers pitches during a recent scrimmage game against Sidney on March 22 in Springfield. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED
Shawnee High School senior Hannah Beers pitches during a recent scrimmage game against Sidney on March 22 in Springfield. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

The Braves return their entire infield, but will have three new players in the outfield, Roberts said.

“We’ve got some new kids out there, but they’ve done very well so far,” Roberts said. “We have a lot of good leadership on the team and I think that comes with having a lot of seniors. They communicate well and they know the type of softball we want to play. I think they’re sharing that with the newer kids.”

Shawnee will face a tough test in the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division, which includes 2019 D-II state champion Jonathan Alder. The Braves haven’t won a league title since 1977.

“I want to prove that if anyone can do it, it’s this class,” Moneypenny said.

After losing last year, the Braves have a sense of urgency, Beers said.

“I feel like we’re taking every day like it could be our last,” she said. “We’re trying 10 times harder than maybe we thought we were last year when we were getting to play.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Hannah Beers, Shawnee: The senior pitcher went 13-5 with a 2.53 earned run average as a sophomore in 2019. She’s committed to play at Rio Grande College.

Cassidy Christian, Northwestern: The senior hit .286 with 16 RBIs and three home runs as a sophomore in 2019.

Hannah DeLong, Mechanicsburg: The senior .542 with eight home runs and 44 RBIs for the D-IV state runner-up Indians in 2019 as a sophomore.

Autumn Jones, Southeastern: The senior hit .583 and led the Ohio Heritage Conference in home runs (13) and RBIs (61) as a sophomore in 2019.

Elise Moneypenny, Shawnee: The senior catcher hit .391 with 20 RBIs and two home runs as a sophomore. She’s committed to play at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Reagan Simpson, Shawnee: The senior first baseman hit .397 with 24 RBIs and eight doubles as a sophomore. She’s committed to play at Wittenberg University.

Bree Trainer, Kenton Ridge: The senior hit .446 with 22 RBIs as a sophomore in 2019.

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