Williams takes over Bridgeport softball program

BRIDGEPORT — It was no secret that Donnie Cash was stepping down as softball coach at Bridgeport following last season, so Athletic Director Greg Harkness kept track of who might be available to take over the Bulldogs diamond program.

The same night that Cash’s resignation was approved during a board of education meeting, the school introduced Paige Williams as his successor.

Williams spent the last 10 seasons at Martins Ferry where she was 136-111, which included a 13-13 mark this season as the youthful Purple Riders advanced to the Division III district championship before bowing to Garaway.

However, her contract was not renewed following the season.

“I’m excited. It’s a nice, new beginning,” Williams, who will also serve on the girls basketball staff, said. “I don’t know much about the team with the exception that they lost their star pitcher in (Brooklynn) Ruble. I’m more excited about what I don’t know,” she admitted. “I don’t have any idea who plays where. We’ll sit down, as a coaching staff, and make the decisions based upon what is best for the team.

“A lot of kids these days, especially in high school, wear a lot of hats as far as positions go,” she added. “A player isn’t necessarily just a second baseman or a shortstop. They may have to play outfield or catcher or pitch. At (Martins) Ferry we had a kid that caught, pitched and played outfield.

“Sometimes it’s better to not have expectations and just do what is best for the team.”

Williams led Martins Ferry to a pair of regional tournament appearances, won an OVAC Class 4A championship in 2011 and made the OVAC playoffs eight times, including the championship games thrice.

“This will be a fresh start,” she admitted. “I’m going to have some big shoes to fill. I never thought I would say that about Donnie and softball, but he did a really good job with the program. Hopefully, I can follow suit.”

Cash and the Bulldogs claimed the OVAC Class 2A championship in 2018 and advanced to the championship contest this past spring before falling to a very good Clay-Battelle team.

“I’d like to thank Greg for the opportunity,” Williams said.

Moving from a Division III school to a Division IV school will also bring along some new faces on the schedule

“Looking at the schedule, there were 3-4 teams we’ve played before. There were several I was familiar with when I coached at Bishop Donahue,” she noted.

While she hasn’t had a chance to sit down and meet with the team yet, she has got the opportunity to meet a some.

“I’m helping out with basketball and there are a few that play both sports, so I’ have met a few of them,” she said.

As for a staff, her entire staff from Martins Ferry is following her.

“Your support staff is really important. It always has been to me. We work very well together,” she stressed. “Michael DeLeonardis will work with the pitchers as he did at Ferry and Peri Powell and I will do the rest.

“Megan (Totterdale) will be there for moral support and as the scorekeeper. She has one of the biggest ‘catches’ in our history. We were playing Meadowbrook for a chance to get into the OVAC Tournament. The weather was getting bad and Meadowbrook was making a run at us. It was Megan that noticed a girl missing third base when she was running the bases. We appealed the play and she was called out. We went on to win the game because that was the third out. We also won the OVAC title.”

Williams will continue to teach Algebra I and II at Martins Ferry.