By Chris Chaney
In varsity sports, experience is key, but sometimes talent is monumental. The Amelia Lady Barons softball team is mixing both ingredients pretty flawlessly three-quarters of the way through the season.
At 9-5 overall and 5-1 in the Southern Buckeye Conference American Division, the Lady Barons are half-game behind league-leading Western Brown.
“We’re pretty close to 50-50 (in terms of roster makeup),” Amelia head coach Kelly Throckmorton said. “We have five seniors and six freshman, then we have one junior and one sophomore. We’re a mixture of rookies and veterans, so we’re coming along. Some of the younger freshman are still learning and developing and the upperclassmen have come around and have been hitting well.”
Things have flipped for Throckmorton over the past two seasons when it comes to what has been the strength of her teams. Last season and the few years prior, Amelia has been a pitcher-led team with Shelby Engle in the circle mowing down batters and covering up for some spotting hitting. However, this year it’s been the bats that are keeping the Lady Barons out in front of their opponents.
“In the past, we’ve had great pitching and we’ve struggled at the plate,” Throckmorton said of the role reversal. “This year we’ve got young pitchers starting over and our batting has helped keep us in the ball game. We’ve been hitting a lot better this season, so that’s partially what’s allowed us to be successful this season.”
The coach added that the Lady Barons’ defense has stepped up as well, which has helped some of the young pitchers when they’ve gotten into a jam.
Taking to the circle for the Lady Barons this year are a pair of freshman Kendal Kaiser and Maggie Block.
“They have coming on strong,” Throckmorton said. “Kendal has mainly been a pitcher growing up and she’s working on her speed – she has good control – and she’s been improving with every game. We’re hoping to have more success later in the season as she improves.
“Maggie, at the beginning of the season was a catcher, but we put her at pitcher early in the season and she has a lot of potential, she’s done well.”
Rounding out the freshman contingent are Mackenzie Hultz, Kyleigh Schultz, Jordan Dickerson and Kristen Meyer. All of them have potential to be perennial starters, Throckmorton said, but will have to work with limited playing time during their first season as many of the seniors play out their final season.
The senior class is led by Brady Potrafke, a four-year starting first baseman who dabbles in pitching as well.
“She’s a big key offensively,” Throckmorton said. “She’s a good batter and has always been very strong at the plate. She’s a good leader and helps the younger girls out a lot.”
Other seniors who are leaving their mark on the program include Jennae Chappell, an outfielder that is leading the team in batting, Whitney Brezinkski, a black hole at shortstop who eats up every ball hit to her, Hannah Burchfield, another big bat and Traci Wright, a third baseman who has added situational bunting to her arsenal, something Amelia has lacked in the past.
In the middle of the senior-freshman bookends is Dana Caldwell, the Lady Barons’ full-time catcher. Throckmorton has had Caldwell behind the dish each of her three years at the school and can depend on her to knock down any loose pitches that come her way.
Currently sitting in second place in the league, the Lady Barons have the opportunity to deal out their hand, playing Western Brown in a postponed doubleheader on Monday, May 6 in their league finale.
Only dropping one league game – a 8-7 loss to Bethel on April 10 – the Lady Barons wrap up their final four SBC games in six days.
From there on out, they have three out-of-conference games to gear up for the sectional tournament, capping their season with West Clermont rival Glen Este on Friday, May 10.