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    Madison heads into its first season in the Chagrin Valley Conference with six returning starters from a squad that finished 14-11 overall and 6-5 in the rugged Western Reserve Conference last spring.

    The Blue Streaks must replace four seniors, but they have the talent to make a run at the CVC Lake Division title.

    “I am encouraged by what I’ve seen in the early going. We are a young team overall who lost four key seniors from last season. The players we have coming up are good athletes who show a lot of promise,” said Madison coach David Negin. “We expect to play competitive softball each game and get better as the season progresses. Being new to the CVC, we are excited to form rivalries with schools that are closer to us in both size and vicinity.”

    Adding to Madison’s challenges this season are replacing four of their top six hitters from last season.

    “Our returners have worked hard on their swing in the offseason, which we hope will give us a more balanced lineup this season,” Negin said. “We emphasize our players giving us quality at-bats. If we can do that throughout our order, we have the talent to be successful.”

    Madison’s strength is up the middle with pitcher Kara Mekulsia and catcher Ally Negin.

    Mekulsia, a junior, struck out 139 batters in 122 2/3 innings of work and finished the year with a 4.67 earned run average. She also hit .410 with 32 hits and a home run. Negin hit .391 as a freshman with 15 RBI and a .512 on-base percentage.

    “Every team wants to be strong at pitcher and catcher, and we have that in Kara and Ally,” Coach Negin said. “Kara is an all-league player who won 12 games last season and struck out 154 batters as a sophomore. She continues to work hard at the game, and we anticipate she will be even better this year both in the circle and at the plate. Ally earned an honorable mention selection last year by batting .391 as a freshman. She caught some last year backing up Emili Blackie but will anchor that position for us this year and help control the running game. She possesses a powerful bat with the ability to hit to all fields and get on base a lot.”

    Seniors Chelsea McCoy and Ella Masony are three-year starters. McCoy, who hit .429 last spring, will play second while Masony will serve as the team’s designated player.

    “(McCoy) is an excellent defender who gets on base a lot and had a good winter season,” Coach Negin said. “Ella Masony will be our DP this year. She has a powerful bat as well, and a knack for getting key hits. She has improved in the field and will be rotating some at first base for us.”

    Seniors Abby LaPorte and Angaliah Fioritto will play left and center fields, respectively. Senior Meredith Rochford will see time in right with junior Zoey Brown.

    “Angaliah Fioritto is our only returning starting outfielder. She will move from right field to center field. She is one of our smartest baserunners and we are counting on improved production from the plate from her,” Coach Negin said. “Abby LaPorte and Meredith Rochford are two senior outfielders who will be counted on to give us solid defense and get on base a lot. Both are fast baserunners who can cause havoc on opponents. Zoey is a good hitter who will be one of the faster runners in the area on the basepaths.”

    Juniors Addy Behm and Tori Semple will play shortstop and third base, respectively, and sophomore Natalie Best is a returning starter at first base.

    “Addy Behm, Tori Semple, and Zoey Brown are three juniors coming up from the JV team last year who have made huge strides,” Coach Negin said. “Addy had a great offseason, batting .333 in winter ball, and solidified herself as one of our starting infielders. Tori will add a lot of power for us. Natalie Best was our starting first baseman last season. She has nursed some injuries in the early going, but she is an outstanding defensive player and has put in a lot of hours improving her swing this offseason.”

    Mekulsia headlines a pitching staff that includes Aubriona Althans, Adrianna Mussell, and Izzi Blackie.

    Madison’s success this season hinges on the Blue Streaks playing solid defense behind their pitchers and securing the clutch hits to move baserunners and plate runs.

    “We have to be able to play sound defense and get quality at-bats throughout our order,” Coach Negin said. “Kara gives us a chance to win many games if we are able to do that.”

     

    Steve Hare
    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.
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