The air was cold, the wind was biting, and Madison High School’s softball team won again.
Sounds like a typical spring day in Ohio.
The Mohawks are off to a 6-0 start under first-year head coach Dean Howard after Friday’s 10-4 triumph at Carlisle, a victory that included four-hit performances by Taylor Johnson and Jenna O’Hair.
“This was a big game for us. We look forward to this game all year,” said O’Hair, a junior shortstop. “We had to fight through the weather, but it was nice to get out here and play some good ball. Everybody was on their game today.”
It was the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division opener for the Mohawks, who went 4-0 on a trip to Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
They’re averaging 11 runs per game for Howard, who was elevated to the program’s top position after Doug Pemberton died of a heart attack last June.
“Good game, good rivalry. I loved it. That was for Coach P,” Howard said. “I can’t ask for anything better right now with our pitching, hitting and defense. We’re coming together, but we’re still growing. It’s a good family.”
O’Hair, Madison’s leadoff hitter, said the team can still feel Pemberton’s presence.
“He was looking down on us this game,” she said. “The loss of our coach is really motivating us. We really want to accomplish our goals for him.”
Carlisle, the defending Buckeye champion, fell to 3-1 overall and in the league. The Indians equaled the Mohawks’ 10 hits, but they were never really in the game, committing seven physical errors and more than a couple mental errors.
“We’ve got a number of upperclassmen that played last year, but we’ve also got some young kids out there,” Carlisle coach Tom Shelton said. “They swung the bat a little bit better than we did and caught fly balls, and we didn’t catch fly balls. You can’t give good teams extra outs and extra bases, and that’s what we did.”
Sabrina Dolph struck out five and walked nobody in the circle for Madison, which scored in every inning but the seventh.
“She hung tough,” Howard said of Dolph, a sophomore right-hander. “It was a good team effort. She knows she’s got the defense behind her.”
Regan Dorman and Samantha Bennett drove in two runs apiece for the Mohawks. Lilly Dennis, Jackie Kovscek and Johnson all had RBIs, Johnson scored three times, and O’Hair showed her speed with three infield singles (two on bunts) and a double.
“They swing the bat and play good defense,” Shelton said. “They don’t like me over there very well, so I think they’ve got a little incentive to beat us. That’s fine. I told the girls before the game if we weren’t ready to play, that’s what was going to happen to us.”
Carlisle totaled five hits and three runs in the last two innings. Sierra Bolen (three hits, RBI), Bailey Naylor (two hits, RBI), Bailey Allen (two hits) and losing pitcher Haylee Hook (RBI) paced the Indians’ offense.
Shelton felt the Indians, Madison and Milton-Union were the top Buckeye teams entering the season. Carlisle will host Milton on Monday, while the Mohawks will travel to Dixie.
“We’ve just got to keep grinding,” Shelton said. “This is one of those years where three or four losses could win the league. You just don’t know.”
WP — Sabrina Dolph (4-0); LP — Haylee Hook (3-1). Records: M 6-0, 1-0 SWBL Buckeye; C 3-1, 3-1 SWBL Buckeye