The 2020 lost season didn’t affect every high school softball team the same way.
Sure, the season was canceled, a year of development was lost, and the senior class never received its proper sendoff.
But, that was last year and Cuyahoga Heights isn’t focused on what didn’t happen. Instead, head coach Kyle Manfredonia and his squad is looking ahead at what could happen.
“It has been business as usual,” said Manfredonia about adapting to the extra-long offseason. “You know your players and you adapt as things change. The next player up always needs to be ready because we know things can change at any time. The biggest challenge is just not knowing what the future may hold. We have to stay committed to being smart outside of softball so we can continue on our season.”
Cuyahoga Heights finished the 2019 season with a 12-9 record.
With four returning starters from that season and a host of talented newcomers, Manfredonia is eager to see what his players can accomplish this spring.
“Our focus is always to win the conference and then make a run for a state title,” he said. “With what we returned and what we have added, this is something we feel that we can accomplish. We have added a lot of softball IQ girls who have been playing and know the game well. We will continue to build on our defense and focus on producing at the plate.”
Leading the way for Cuyahoga Heights is senior pitcher Julia Harris, who earned second-team All-Chagrin Valley Conference honors as a sophomore.
“She is one of the best athletes I have ever coached,” Manfredonia said. “Her attitude and skills are always being shown at a high level. She has the ability to have an MVP season.”
Sophomore Bella Williams also will throw some innings this season.
Senior third baseman Sydney Dyer and senior center fielder Maddie Vance also will be counted on to provide leadership and consistent play on defense and at the plate.
Dyer was named second-team All-CVC in 2019 while Vance was an honorable mention selection.
“Seniors Sydney Dyer and Maddie Vance have been crucial defensively and offensively for us for the past years,” Manfredonia said. “Their leadership and experience will have a huge impact on how our season turns out.”
Senior Jesse Novak and junior Lexi Baciak are projected to play right field while juniors Kaitey Calvey and Maddie Krzynowek have the left side locked down.
Junior Zakiya Baker is projected to start at first base with freshman Maddie Dopson providing depth.
Sophomores Kaylee Vallee and Tessa Studniarz will catch and play shortstop, respectively, and sophomores Alize Reyes and Tess Conroy both are second basemen.
“I am really excited for the girls we added to the varsity team,” Manfredonia said. “These girls really bring a much-needed competitive attitude and work ethic with them. This team is a bunch of (hard-core) young women who are only focusing on their goals and will not accept failure. They are hungry and ready to make moves this year. We have to focus on us and control the controllables. We have to be confident and understand what we are able to accomplish with this team.”