After a 2-year absence, Bryce Allen has returned as the head girls' softball coach at his alma mater - Barnesville.
"I'm excited. This is home to me," the 2004 Barnesville graduate said. "I coached these seniors when they were freshmen, so the transition coming back should be pretty smooth."
T-L Photo/MIKE PALMER
PICTURED ARE the key returnees for the Barnesville softball team. Front row, from left, are assistant coach Leslie Skinner, Shaylyn Giesey, Carolyn Blattler, Annika Wildes, Taylor Farrabee and head coach Bryce Allen. Second row, from left, are Shasta Roberts, Michaela George, Emily Sleeth, Hannah Hannahs and Halie Gibbons. Third row, from left, are assistant coach John Blattler, Sydney Ralston, Avery Hanlon, Katie Jackson, Blaire Thompson and assistant coach Lindsay Schafer.
Allen takes over for Matt Johnson, who stepped down after two seasons in the Shamrocks' dugout. Allen was 11-6 in his first go-round.
"We've got eight letterwinners back, so that's a good start," Allen said. "But, on the other side, we lost five experienced seniors that were the cornerstone of the offense. I remember them as sophomores. They combined for 93 runs batted in last year, so that's some big holes to fill."
Those five included Paige Gibbons, Lane Hanlon, Becky Burkhart, Hunter Weiss and Marrissa Burga.
The eight returnees are senior Carolyn Blattler (3B) and Shaylyn Giesey (1B); juniors Shasta Roberts (LF), Hailie Gibbons (2B/INF), Hannah Hannahs (C/1B) and Emily Sleeth (CF/P); and sophomores Blaire Thompson (C) and Sydney Ralston (P/SS).
Giesey hit .300 last spring with 15 hits and seven runs batted in. She was also hit by pitches six times. Sleeth batted .307 in limited action (13 at-bats), while Ralston had a batting average of .265, with nine hits and seven ribbies. Roberts batted .255 and Blattler .250
Completing the roster are seniors Annika Wildes (OF) and Taylor Farrabee (2B); juniors Sharon Blackstone (OF) and Michaela George (UT); and sophomores Avery Hanlon (P/SS) and Katie Jackson (OF).
"Carolyn and Shaylyn played varsity as freshmen," Allen recalled. "There's not much to getting to know these girls because of my background here. They are all hard workers who have a passion for the game. They want to play."
Allen said pitching and defense will be team strengths.
"I like our pitching with Sydney and Avery," Allen noted. "They are both really good and pitching is where it all starts."
However, the key to the season, according to Allen, is how well the Shamrocks hit the ball, especially with runners in scoring position.
"Some other girls are going to have to step up this season, and I think they will."
Allen is assisted by John Blattler, Leslie Skinner and Lindsay Schafer. The schedule is as follows:
April 1 -- at Union Local; April 2 -- at Bridgeport; April 3 -- Beallsville; April 4 -- Buckeye Trail; April 7 -- at Caldwell; April 8 -- at Shenandoah; April 9 -- Bridgeport; April 10 -- at Bellaire; April 11 -- St. Clairsville; April 16 -- at Beallsville; April 17 -- Union Local; April 19 -- at Monroe Central (DH), Noon; April 21 -- Shenandoah; April 22 -- at St. John; April 23 -- Bellaire; April 24 -- Shadyside; April 26 -- at Linsly (DH), 4 p.m.; April 29 -- at St. Clairsville; April 30 -- at Shadyside; May 1 -- Caldwell; May 2 -- at Buckeye Trail; May 6 -- Linsly.