MONROE — Tim Kellis is back in the dugout for the Monroe High School softball team.
And so are the Hornets.
Monroe had eight players notch hits — including senior Meg O’Neill’s 4-for-4 performance — and used a 10-run first inning to secure an 18-2 home-opening victory over Roger Bacon on Tuesday.
Kellis coached eight years at Monroe prior to leaving for Miami University Middletown the previous two seasons. The veteran coach said the transition has been a momentum-filled one.
“It all really kicked in (Monday),” Kellis said of the Hornets’ 12-7 season-opening loss to Chaminade Julienne. “We came back against them, but then they scored some more runs. We didn’t let them score the last two innings. We felt like we made some strides there.
“Today (Tuesday), we changed how we did pregame to get our girls more focused,” Kellis added. “I felt like we came out slow in our final scrimmage and then against CJ. With some changes, that really helped us.”
Monroe (1-1) fell behind 9-0 against the Eagles on Monday before reeling off seven straight runs to hack at the margin.
“Then they came out hitting today,” Kellis said. “They continued from that.”
O’Neill led the pace offensively on Tuesday for the Hornets, who got other contributions at the plate from seniors Charleigh McNeil (2-for-3, RBI) and Delanie Reenan (1-for-3, run, RBI); junior Chloe Kramer (2-for-3, two runs, RBI); sophomores Madi Frazier (2-for-3, RBI) and Molly Griffin (3-for-4, four runs, four RBI); and freshmen McKenna Bare (1-for-2, two runs, two RBI) and Kenna Spears (1-for-2, three runs).
“It finally feels good to get this one after the past few years we’ve had,” O’Neill said. “I know we’re going to have a winning team. I just know it.
“This is a really big confidence booster for all of us the rest of the season,” O’Neill added. “Our hitting is better than it’s ever been. That lifts us up. We do a good job of lifting each other up.”
Monroe junior pitcher Regan Swartz appreciated the run support from her teammates. She fanned three Roger Bacon batters and only gave up one hit.
“My offense is really supportive,” Swartz said. “Even if they do hit it off me and score, I know that my offense will have my back. I hope to expect that every time and do just as good. Once we were doing pretty good, we just really came together as a team. That helped our confidence go up. That helped me throw better in general — knowing that we were ahead so much.”
Bringing awareness, celebrating the seniors
Tuesday was Monroe softball’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness game.
“When I was here before, we always had Breast Cancer Awareness Day,” Kellis said. “It started when I was coaching my first year here. We wanted to continue that.”
Kellis said the Monroe softball program will have other special recognition days throughout the season, including military appreciate day and specific senior days.
“This group of seniors has been through a couple of rough years,” Kellis said. “For these seniors, for them not to get their freshman year (COVID) and to have two rough years after that, they still came back to want to play. That meant a lot.”
Kellis said each senior will be honored with their own Senior Day game throughout the remainder of the season.
“We’re trying to make this year about the seniors and make it special,” the coach said. “They’ve each picked a different day, and we will celebrate the seniors as a whole at the end of the season like usual.”
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