Badin coach Greg Stitzel comes out of a huddle with his team during a Division II district softball semifinal against Ross at Kings on May 15, 2018. Ross won 4-3 in 10 innings. RICK CASSANO/STAFF

Prep softball preview: Youthful Badin seeks 10th straight league title

HAMILTON — Badin High School softball coach Greg Stitzel has one word for BHS fans … patience.

The Rams lost six seniors from last year’s squad, including Greater Catholic League Coed Central Division Player of the Year Nicole Rawlings and fellow first-team all-league players Josie Link and Maddie Curtner.

Stitzel said the Rams will be young and inexperienced in 2019, but he hopes they’ll be much better by tournament time.

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“We are young and inexperienced, so we need to be patient and let them grow,” said Stitzel, who has a 278-138 record in 16 seasons at the Badin helm. “The big lefty (Rawlings) is gone, as well as some others. We are hoping to just continue to improve daily, keep working hard together and be ready for the tournament.”

Badin went 22-4 a year ago, getting knocked out by Ross in the Division II district semifinals. The prior three years, the Rams won 80 games and went to the Division III regionals each year.

The accomplishments sit on a board the team sees each day.

“It lets them know where they are and what has been done and what is expected,” Stitzel said. “I think these girls are up for the challenge, but man, we are young. “

While Rawlings’ 15 wins are gone, Stitzel said sophomore Emma Kent is ready to take over in the circle. Kent, a second-team GCLC selection, went 7-0 a year ago with a 0.59 earned run average.

Stitzel said freshman Sydney Feenstra will see time as a pitcher while also playing shortstop.

In the outfield, the Rams have good experience with senior Sara Fields and junior Gracie McHugh, both second-team GCLC picks. Left fielder Fields hit .400 with 20 RBIs last season, while center fielder McHugh hit .432 with 11 stolen bases.

Stitzel said right field will be handled by a platoon selection led by junior Katie Ropka.

Junior Sydney Rawlings, a first-team GCLC choice, will rotate between catcher, shortstop and third base. She hit .389 with 13 RBIs last year.

Sophomore Caitlin Smith will also catch and see infield duty with a pair of freshmen, Haley Drott and Kortney Cummins, playing first and second, respectively. Junior Leah Krause will play third base and first base, according to Stitzel.

Badin has won nine straight league championships. The Rams shared the GCLC Central crown with McNicholas last year, and Stitzel said the Rockets will be Badin’s toughest challengers in 2019.

“These girls don’t want to be the one to lose the league,” Stitzel said. “McNick has a really good pitcher, so it will be a battle.

“I think we can hit it, I really do. If we field the ball, we can be good. Our goal is to win the league every year and be ready for the tournament. That doesn’t change.”

Badin kicks off the season with a home doubleheader March 23 against Ursuline and St. Henry (Ky.).

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