After a run to the Division I regional tournament, Madison opens the 2018 season with bigger goals and the talent to achieve them.
The Blue Streaks, who finished 18-4 overall last spring, return eight starters from the squad that won the Mentor District championship and finished second to South in the Western Reserve Conference.
“We expect to compete for the WRC title and the district championship,” said Madison coach Arthur Rose. “We gained a great deal of confidence off of last season’s run to regionals.”
Madison won’t be without challenges this spring as the Blue Streaks play in a conference loaded with quality teams and the district tournament is always a grind. The good news is the Blue Streaks have plenty of big game experience under their belts and a lineup filled with talent.
It all starts with senior pitcher Alyssa Rose, the reigning WRC Player of the Year.
Rose, a Cleveland State University commitment, was 13-3 in the circle and batted .466 with three home runs and 28 runs batted in.
“She is a natural leader in work ethic and on-field performance,” Coach Rose said.
Senior center fielder Gabby Blackford, senior second baseman Alexandra Berry and junior shortstop Jordan Pasalaqua also earned all-conference honors.
Blackford batted .303 with a team-high four home runs and knocked in 18 more. Pasalaqua hit .384 with one homer and 26 RBI.
Berry hit .493 with 16 RBI.
“She is one of the most consistent hitters in the area,” Coach Rose said. “She brings such a great team-first attitude and calming influence to our team.”
Junior Allison Schultz, who was an honorable mention All-WRC performer, is projected to start behind the dish. Freshman Halle Blackford is slotted at first base, senior Alexis Lavdis will play third and senior Emma Burkholder and sophomore Cori Queen will play left field and right field, respectively.
Schultz batted .333 with 11 RBI while Lavdis, an Ashland University commitment, hit .500 with two homers and 12 RBI in a shortened season.
“After playing in only nine games last season, we are pumped to she wants she can do in a full season,” Rose said of Lavdis. “She has a big bat and is a strong defensive player.”
While Rose will handle most of the pitching duties, Pasalaqua, who was 5-1 last spring, and Gabby Blackford also could put in some work in the circle.
Madison’s success, and chances of dethroning reigning WRC champ South, hinges on the Blue Streaks’ ability to play together and do what it takes to push across runs and make the right moves on defense.
“We believe we have the ability to hit up and down our order and our pitching should keep us in games,” Rose said. “Defense is a must for us to compete at the level we want to play at. It’s very hard without much time on dirt, due to weather, but the girls are working very hard on defensive drills.”
Madison is scheduled to open the season against Conneaut on Saturday.