Prep softball preview: Fairfield looks to turn close defeats into wins

Fairfield’s Jordan Shotwell (10) rounds the bases and is congratulated by teammates after hitting a home run during their game against Mount Notre Dame at Fairfield on April 25, 2017. The host Indians won 15-2. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

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Fairfield’s Jordan Shotwell (10) rounds the bases and is congratulated by teammates after hitting a home run during their game against Mount Notre Dame at Fairfield on April 25, 2017. The host Indians won 15-2. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

FAIRFIELD — Fairfield High School’s softball team lost seven Greater Miami Conference softball games last season.

Six were to the three teams that finished ahead of the Indians in the standings — Mason, Lakota West and Lakota East — but only two of those defeats were by more than two runs, and one of the two two-run losses went to extra innings.

Both losses to the conference champion Comets were by scores of 3-2.

PREP SOFTBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

» Badin Rams

» Franklin Wildcats

» Hamilton Big Blue

» Lakota West Firebirds

» Middletown Christian Eagles

» Monroe Hornets

PREP BASEBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

» Badin Rams

» Carlisle Indians

» Cincinnati Christian Cougars

» Edgewood Cougars

» Fairfield Indians

» Fenwick Falcons

» Hamilton Big Blue

» Lakota East Thunderhawks

» Lakota West Firebirds

» Lebanon Warriors

» Madison Mohawks

» Middletown Middies

» Middletown Christian Eagles

» New Miami Vikings

» Talawanda Brave

“We played them tough in every game last season,” said Fairfield coach Brenda Stieger, whose team ended up tied with Oak Hills and 18-8 overall after a Division I district-final loss to Lebanon. “I would say we are in very good company.”

Stieger and the Indians hope they have tools needed to close those narrow gaps and win a title for the first time since sharing the 2014 championship with West and Mason.

Fairfield shows signs of having a potent lineup led by two seniors, pitcher-third baseman Lindsey Mitchell and left fielder Jordan Shotwell. Mitchell is a four-year starter who hit .396 on her way to being a first-team all-GMC infielder last season. Shotwell is a three-year starter who hit .400 last season.

Junior shortstop Maiah Hodge returns for her third varsity season, and senior Hannah Miller is a versatile player who can pitch and play both corner infield positions.

Mitchell is the Tribe’s most experienced returning pitcher after going 5-1 with a 3.09 earned run average in 34 innings over seven games. Miller was 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA in eight innings over two games. Whomever is pitching will appreciate a defensive effort similar to last season’s, when the Indians finished second in the GMC with a combined .961 fielding percentage.

“Although we have some experience, many of our infield players will be moving around to fill positions as we need them depending on who is pitching,” Stieger said. “We have three freshmen learning the ropes right now in a variety of positions, two sophomores and two other juniors. Some of those girls will split time on the junior varsity. We are going to use the final two scrimmages to decide who will make out the final starting lineup. Whoever is hitting will find themselves in the lineup.”

The Indians, who haven’t won an outright GMC championship since 2001, are scheduled to open their regular season on March 25 with a 5 p.m. GMC home game against Middletown, followed by a 5 p.m. conference game at Sycamore on March 27.

“I have confidence in these ladies,” Stieger said. “We find ways to win games and playing in the GMC always prepares us for a deep tournament run. The preseason has shown us we have a strong offensive lineup.”

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