Prep softball preview: Fenwick rising and plans to continue that surge

Fenwick High School softball coach George Moore

Combined ShapeCaption
Fenwick High School softball coach George Moore

MIDDLETOWN — George Moore wants Fenwick High School’s softball climb to continue this season.

The Falcons were 13-7 and Greater Catholic League Coed North Division champions last year, with the record representing their first winning mark since 2014.

Moore, now in his fifth season at the helm, said he sees even more potential in 2019.

“When I first started here, there wasn’t the culture I wanted,” Moore said. “Fenwick hasn’t been known for its softball. It’s been a slow development, but it’s happening. We’re out there to have fun, but we’re also goal-orientated. We want to accomplish things.

PREP SOFTBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

» Badin Rams

» Cincinnati Christian Cougars

» Edgewood Cougars

» Fairfield Indians

» Franklin Wildcats

» Hamilton Big Blue

» Lakota East Thunderhawks

» Lakota West Firebirds

» Middletown Christian Eagles

» Monroe Hornets

» New Miami Vikings

“Last year was something to build on. The girls recognize that the GCL title is nice, but that’s not really the endpoint we want. There’s a whole season after that we want to compete in.”

Most of the team has returned this season, including reigning GCLC North Player of the Year Annabelle Thomas, a senior first baseman.

And Fenwick got off to a solid start over the weekend, sweeping St. Bernard 15-1 and Waynesville 7-6. The Falcons will host Northwest on Monday.

“I think we are probably the most well-rounded team that I have had here,” said Moore, whose Division II squad hasn’t won a tournament game since 2016. “We’ve got six, seven, eight girls that can really hit. Last year was nice, but it doesn’t affect how we are now. We preach legacy to them all the time. We are trying to make a name for ourselves.”

Thomas hit a team-leading .561 with 21 RBIs, nine doubles and 10 stolen bases last season, though she’ll likely miss the opening stretch of six nonconference games with a sprained ankle.

Junior shortstop Abby Gustely (.485, 14 RBIs) and senior third baseman Claudia Miller (.422) also return. Miller may see some time in the outfield and behind the plate.

Junior Haylee Hook brings a strong bat to the lineup after transferring from Carlisle. She’ll rotate with junior Rachel Berling between an outfield spot and the pitcher’s circle.

Moore is thrilled to have two possible pitching aces. As the returning veteran, Berling (13-7, 3.74 earned run average) is the No. 1 until proven otherwise.

“Rachel got us to this point. She needs to understand that this is her team,” Moore said. “She’s looking faster. She’s got good control. She is a smart pitcher. I’m not afraid to pitch her to anybody.

“Haylee is faster than Rachel, but she doesn’t have the control that Rachel does. It’s a very awesome thing to have two pitchers that complement each other. I can kind of mix them up and play with them out there.”

PREP BASEBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

» Badin Rams

» Carlisle Indians

» Cincinnati Christian Cougars

» Edgewood Cougars

» Fairfield Indians

» Fenwick Falcons

» Franklin Wildcats

» Hamilton Big Blue

» Lakota East Thunderhawks

» Lakota West Firebirds

» Lebanon Warriors

» Madison Mohawks

» Middletown Middies

» Middletown Christian Eagles

» New Miami Vikings

» Ross Rams

» Talawanda Brave

There will be two freshman starters, Lindsey Vallarautto in center field and Leah Hemmingsen as the catcher. Vallarautto has the speed to cover a large area in the outfield.

Senior Emily Moore played a little as a sophomore and missed last season with a medical condition. She’s set to play the outfield and could also see some time at third base.

Junior Hannah Hemmingsen is the top candidate at second base, though sophomore Kathryn Bayer — who didn’t play last season — can handle second or third.

The rest of the roster includes sophomores Aimee Rapier, Audrey Shope, Erica Gray, Lydia Hubert and Sophia Borger.

“Our numbers are down. We don’t have a JV team this year, but that kind of allows me to see everybody firsthand instead of relying on somebody else,” George Moore said. “We don’t have great overall speed, but we have a good mix of speed. I think we have a good mix of skills.”

Moore didn’t have a softball coaching history when he joined Tyler Callahan’s staff in 2014. But he’s studied the sport and feels comfortable in the job these days, even with his extensive wrestling and football resume.

“I’m a nerd when it comes to sports,” Moore said. “I want to learn and know absolutely everything I can. I don’t sleep much, so my nights are spent looking at film and watching other coaches and learning from them. I’m definitely a student of the game.”

He stresses aggressiveness in all parts of the game. “With my wrestling and football background, I don’t know that there’s another way to coach,” Moore added.

About the Author