Softball: 11 players to watch this season

LIMA — Softball season is well underway despite several weather cancellations, and the showcase of area talent on the diamond is already on full display.

With conference play starting to heat up, let’s take a look at some players to watch as the season goes on.

Claire Armentrout (INF/C) of Bath

Bath (1-1) has been limited to just two games in the first few weeks of the season, and its lineup has yet to really take off, but Armentrout, a first-team WBL selection in 2023, plays a big role batting out of the three hole.

That was evident in the Wildkittens’ 7-5 win over LCC when she went 3 for 4 at the plate with a home run and three runs batted in. With center fielder Anne Oliver and catcher Addison Gibson, a pair of teammates who earned all-league honors, protecting her in the order, Armentrout should see plenty of opportunities to drive in runs.

Jenna Bassitt (P) of Ada

Bassitt is one of eight players to return for Ada after a 16-7 season in 2023.

As only one of three NWC-first teamers back from last season, Bassitt should challenge Savana Brooks of Allen East and Taylor Post of Lincolnview for Player of the Year in the conference.

She’s surrounded in the lineup by all-league teammates Karley Wagner, Natilyn McClain, Tessa Griffith and Katie Sizemore.

Ada won its season-opener 15-0 over Hardin Northern. Bassitt tossed a one-hitter with 14 strikeouts and had two hits at the plate, a double and a home run.

Savana Brooks (C) of Allen East

Savana Brooks is the returning Northwest Conference Player of the Year heading into her senior season, and despite her team’s struggles out of the gate (0-3 record), Brooks is off to a red-hot start at the plate.

In her first seven plate appearances, Brooks has three hits and a pair of runs batted in. She’s spent 11 innings behind the plate, thrown out one base stealer, picked off a runner and allowed just one passed ball.

Brooks’ handling of Allen East’s two freshman pitchers, Aaliyah Young and Lauren Wiremen, is another thing to keep an eye on if the Mustangs want to improve on last season’s record of 10-10.

Karsyn Erford (C) of Ottawa-Glandorf

Ottawa-Glandorf is getting a bit of a late start to the season after a run to the state finals in basketball, but once the Titans get going, Erford should excel in yet another sport for the Titans.

Erford had a strong freshman season behind the plate despite her team struggling to a 1-16 record. Erford was one of two Ottawa-Glandorf players to earn postseason honors last year with a third-team WBL selection.

Tatelyn Faraglia (P/INF) of Waynesfield-Goshen

Faraglia is coming off an all-state season on the basketball court for the Tigers.

Following her sophomore softball season, she earned first-team NWCC honors, and she’ll return for her junior year as one of Waynesfield-Goshen’s main arms in a deep, five-player pitching staff.

She has yet to appear in a game this season, but the Tigers have been limited to just one game, a 14-11 win over Allen East.

Addison Fisher (P/INF) of Wapakoneta

Fisher, a WBL first-teamer in 2023, returns for the Redskins inside the circle and at the top of the batting order.

Wapakoneta head coach Bill Sammons said after a win earlier this season over Allen East that Fisher has “retooled” her pitching mechanics with the help of her father, and it looks like it’s already paying off for her in the early going.

In that 17-1 win over the Mustangs, Fisher pitched a five-inning complete game, limiting hitters to four hits and nine strikeouts. Fisher also went 4 for 4 with five RBI in a season-opening 20-1 victory over Spencerville.

Krystin Moore (P) of Delphos Jefferson

Offensively, Moore and the Wildcats are off to the best start of any team in the area.

In four games, Delphos Jefferson outscored its opponents 93-20, including a 35-4 win over Pandora-Gilboa and a 23-1 victory over Ottoville.

Moore has all four wins inside the circle, striking out 23 batters and limiting opponents to just three earned runs. At the plate, she’s batting .333 with six runs driven in and 10 runs scored.

Moore hits in the top third of a stacked lineup that’s batted .447, drawn 59 walks and struck out just 13 times.

Leah Ramirez (P/INF) of Elida

Ramirez enters her senior year fresh off a 12-12 season with the Bulldogs in 2023, which earned her a first-team WBL selection. She regularly bats third in the order behind freshman pitcher Lilly Sifrit, who’s off to an impressive start, and sophomore center fielder Liv Walters.

Ramirez has struggled in the early going, batting .200 over 10 at-bats and taking the loss inside the circle against Minster, but Elida’s off to a 2-1 start with wins over LCC and New Bremen.

Once Ramirez starts clicking with her younger teammates in the top half of the lineup, it’s easy to see them being competitive at the top of the WBL standings.

Isabel Reyna (P) of Miller City

Reyna is one of only a few PCL first-teamers to return this season.

Miller City is a veteran-heavy team coming off a 15-7 record last year and Reyna serves as the team’s top arm and anchor of the lineup batting ninth.

In two starts this season, Reyna is 1-1, throwing 12 2/3 innings with 12 strikeouts. She’s also fared well at the plate with three hits in eight at-bats.

As a two-way threat, Reyna should help put the Wildcats in a position to repeat as PCL champs.

Abby Stechschulte (P) of Columbus Grove

Stechschulte has the tough task this season of leading a group that’s trying to replace PCL Player of the Year Gwen Langhals and first-teamer Megan Bogart.

For Columbus Grove, those results have been solid early on with a 3-1 record and a run differential of 45-27 against its opponents.

Stechschulte has more than played her part early on with four hits, a pair of runs batted in and seven runs scored in the first four games. She also has three wins inside the circle with 32 strikeouts in 23 innings.

As the Bulldogs’ leadoff hitter and top arm, Stechschulte should set the tone all season.

Adyson Van De Keere (P) of St. Marys

Van De Keere is another player entering her sophomore season. She was the youngest player to earn a first-team WBL selection last year, and so far this season, she’s been simply brilliant inside the circle.

Van De Keere has started all three games for the Roughriders, limiting hitters to five earned runs in 17 innings and racking up 29 strikeouts. She earned a complete-game victory against New Bremen and went five innings in a 3-2 win over Lincolnview.

If the St. Marys bats can keep up, Van De Keere and the Roughriders should be right in the mix at the top of the WBL with defending champion Defiance and Wapakoneta.

Reach Chris Howell at 567-242-0468 or on Twitter at @Lima_Howell