BELLVILLE — Clear Fork’s softball team finished 22-6 overall and 13-1 in the Ohio Cardinal Conference last season.
A loss to Clyde in the district semi-finals ended the Lady Colts tournament hopes. With five key returning letter winners the Lady Colts have a solid nucleus and look to continue their success.
Clear Fork looks to end its run in the Ohio Cardinal Conference with its third consecutive championship. Head coach Jeff Gottfried, who has a career record of 364-110 in 17 years at the school, Hopes the Lady Colts solidify their legacy before Clear Fork joins the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference next season.
“We hope to have a say in who wins the title in our last season in the Ohio Cardinal Conference,” said Gottfried. “We’ve never been afraid of OCC competition, we’ve embraced it as challenge. I’ve never made the excuse of teams are better bigger than us this is who we play this is what our schedule is let’s go get it.”
The Lady Colts have won, or shared seven Ohio Cardinal Conference Championships in 13 seasons. This years squad looks to compete for its third consecutive OCC title and a district Championship.
Senior pitcher Darian Gottfried, who’s 2016 numbers, 21-6 record, 1.89 ERA, 116 SO and 35 BB, solidify her as the staff ace.
Juniors Zara Thomas, at first base, and Macy Wade, at third base, anchor the corners. Thomas hit .376, scored 27 runs and had 19 RBI last season. Wade hit .309 with 2two home runs, 11 doubles and 22 RBI.
Senior Caitlyn Hilverding, who plays middle infield, scored 32 runs and hit .348 with 5 doubles and 25 RBI in 2016, also returns and will be key to the Lady Colts’ success
Sophomore Haylie Miller had an outstanding freshman season playing catcher and shortstop. Miller banged out seven doubles, two triples and three home runs, with 24 RBI, in her first varsity season.
Other players to watch include senior McKenzie Baker; senior Emma Keene; senior Shannon Longshore and freshman Carson Crowner.
Gottfried does not subscribe to any one philosophy.
“Whatever fits best for a team,” he said. “We’ve been a speed team that plays ‘little ball’ with a lot of stolen bases. There’s been other years when I sit back and we hit a lot of home runs. Our team doesn’t have a personal philosophy, we do what fits our players.”
Gottfried feels the 2017 team could be a combination of both styles.
“We have some kids that hit for power,we also have to generate some runs on offense, not everybody has that power. The bigger thing that we focus on his defense. It’s been like that for that for 18 years. We tell our girls before every game, if the other team doesn’t score they’ll never win. Our goal is to have a shutout every game.”