Monday, May 20

    Rebels have lofty goals


    South returns all but one starter from last year’s team that earned a share of the Western Reserve Conference then went on to win a district title and play in a Division I regional championship game.

    With eight returning starters, the Rebels have set lofty goals for the 2019 season.

    “This year’s squad has set the bar very high,” South coach Erin Dodson said. “This is a close group of girls who have worked hard on the field and off to improve their physical and mental skill set. These girls had a taste of a postseason run last year and definitely want more.”

    The Rebels finished 24-8 last season and return one of the state’s top players in junior Riley Frizell, who batted .520 with an on-base percentage of .843. The reigning WRC and News-Herald Player of the Year, Frizell already has committed to continue her education and playing career at the University of Missouri.

    In addition to leading the Rebels with 44 runs batted in, eight home runs and she drew a staggering 30 walks, Frizell also is dominant in the circle.

    “Riley brings leadership,” Dodson said. “She has a work ethic unmatched. Her physical and mental skill set elevate her play and the play of her teammates.”

    Senior Mya Matriano returns at shortstop after batting .545 last spring. She also scored 44 runs and stole 25 bases in earning first team all-league and honorable mention all-district honors.

    “Mya is a four-year starter at shortstop and one of the premier leadoff hitters in the area,” Dodson said. “Mya is looking to up her game offensively and defensively. She has set some lofty goals for herself. A career .490 hitter, Mya is looking to set the table for us again this year.”

    Seniors Raegan Williams, Allison Cesar and Hanna Blasinsky also return after solid junior years.

    Williams, a first baseman, batted .318, Cesar, a center fielder, batted .338 with just one error, and Blasinsky, a Heidelberg commitment, batted .370 and committed just one error in right field.

    Juniors Ava Scott and Kalie Eshelman are projected to start at third base and left field, respectively. Scott hit .296 last spring while Eshelman batted .380 and committed just one error on defense.

    Sophomore Makenna Matriano had a breakout freshman year as she hit .424 with 39 RBI and only nine strikeouts in 132 plate appearances. She also led the squad with 13 doubles.

    Freshman Cat Heckman rounds out the projected starting lineup as she will fill the role behind the plate vacated by four-year starter Kristen Jesberger.

    “We look to her to take on a leadership role behind the plate,” Dodson said of Heckman. “She has big shoes to fill with the departure of four-year starter Kristen Jesberger graduating. I think Cat is ready for the challenge.”

    Sophomore Emily Kelly provides the Rebels with a capable arm behind Frizell in the circle.

    “Emily is going to be a great addition to our pitching staff,” Dodson said. “She is a very talented pitcher who can throw multiple pitches and has some movement. I’m excited to see what she can do this year.”

    With a dominating pitching staff and potent offense—the Rebels batted .392 as a team and hit 25 home runs last spring—South has the potential to duplicate last season’s postseason run and possibly take it a step further.

    Success starts with each individual player stepping up on offense and defense.

    “Everyone needs to play their role,” Dodson said. “This year’s squad has set some hefty goals and everyone needs to be on the same page.”

    Steve Hare
    Steve Hare
    The creator and publisher of, 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, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the 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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