Most wins in team history, record-setting or tying individual performances and team bonding all helped pave the way for the Talawanda High School softball team to reach heights never before attained in Southwest Ohio Conference play.
This year’s team finished second in the SWOC behind undefeated league champion Harrison and one game ahead of third-place Ross in the final standings.
The Brave finished with a SWOC record of 11-4, with three of those losses coming to Harrison, and put together a team record 19-9 overall mark. Harrison finished 15-0 in the league while Ross was 10-5.
“Since 2013 (when the SWOC started) fourth was the best finish ever in (Talawanda’s) history,” Coach Scott Davie said. “In 2018, my first year as coach, we were in fifth place, then fourth and fourth and then second. The program has arrived. The girls had their sights set on a championship but it was a remarkable season.”
There was no season in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The previous best record for a Talawanda softball team was 16 regular-season wins in 2012 but this year’s team had 18 regular-season wins. They split two postseason games which put them at 19 total wins on the season, one better than the previous best season total.
Davie said Harrison had a solid team this year, led by a freshman pitcher, Sophie Barrier, who pitched against Talawanda in all three games this season. Barrier ended the year as one of two co-Pitchers of the Year.
“I felt like Harrison had a talented squad and, maybe, we did not have our best performances against them,” the coach said. “When we dropped our second game to them in late April, it put (the SWOC in their reach). We were not able to control our own destiny.”
Talawanda did manage to take two of three games from Ross and swept Edgewood, something Talawanda teams have not been able to accomplish very often.
Four Talawanda players were named as First Team all-SWOC honorees, led by senior Rachel Dsuban, who was also named co-Player of the Year with Harrison’s Bailey Manos.
Dsuban put her name in the Talawanda record book multiple times, including racking up 42 runs batted in for the second year in a row. That was the school record she set as a junior and then tied her own school record this season. The school career rbi record is 117 and she finishes her career with 95, having missed a season due to the pandemic shutdown her sophomore year.
Dsuban finishes her high school career with a .468 batting average and a school record 12 homeruns.
Junior Lilly Iden was another Talawanda player named to the all-SWOC first team, sporting a .522 batting average, the third-best mark all time for Talawanda. It also put her fifth in the league in that category this year. She accumulated a total of 48 hits for the season, which was a team record.
Freshman players do not often make first-team league honors, but Kylie Cobb turned a solid season in the pitching circle into a first-team recognition with nine wins. She was one of three pitchers with nine wins each and teammate McKenna Weekley, a sophomore, was one of the other two as they combined for 18 of the team’s 19 wins. Weekley was named to the SWOC second team.
Weekley was third in the league in strikeouts with 69 while Cobb was fourth with 66. Weekley had the team’s only save of the season.
The fourth first-teamer for the Brave was senior Madie Patton, who has signed a Letter of Intent to play softball for Miami University next year.
“Madie was our centerfielder for most of our games, but played a little first base when we needed her to. She stepped into a key role, both offensively and defensively, when needed,” Davie said.
Junior Halee McDade scored 33 runs this season and finished one run shy of the school record but she was second to Dsuban in runs batted in, with 36, and also contributed 36 hits, among them seven doubles, four triples and two homeruns. She named to the SWOC second team.
Also on that second team was junior Kaelyn Wright, who broke the single-season stolen base record with 22, one better than the previous mark. She also scored 31 runs, one of three players to do so along with Dsuban and Iden, behind McDade’s 33.
Sophomore Molly Van Gorden was named Honorable Mention on the all-SWOC list while senior Brooklyn Conrad received the team’s Sportsmanship Award.
While the individual performances drove team’s success, Davie said the team dynamics were the key to their final result.
“We talked a lot about the word, ‘Together’ and even have it painted in our dugout. We win together, we lose together,” he said. “This was, arguably, one of the most hard-working teams I’ve had. They were in the weight room three times a week before the season and even a few weeks into the season. They had a .403 team batting average. Every kid did some good things. Individual efforts lead team success.”
Those good things extend beyond just play on the field, the coach said. They are strong in the classroom, as 14 of 16 players on the roster were academic all-conference.
“They are just good kids,” the coach said. “We were out of the playoffs on a Wednesday and on Friday they got together in groups of four and volunteered for ShareFest to help the community. There are a lot of things to celebrate.”
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