High School Softball: Beavercreek rolling, goals in sight

Beavercreek sophomore pitcher Haley Ferguson pitches during Tuesday's 4-1 victory at Miamisburg. She leads the Greater Western Ohio Conference in strikeouts with 105 in 76 innings and starting pitchers in ERA at 1.01. Jeff GIlbert/CONTRIBUTED

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Beavercreek sophomore pitcher Haley Ferguson pitches during Tuesday's 4-1 victory at Miamisburg. She leads the Greater Western Ohio Conference in strikeouts with 105 in 76 innings and starting pitchers in ERA at 1.01. Jeff GIlbert/CONTRIBUTED

Haley Ferguson brings the spin. Molly Koesters brings the power. Together, they want to lead Beavercreek softball to a place the program hasn’t been since 1983.

Last year the Beavers played far above recent levels and reached the Division I regional final, only to lose 5-3 to Lakota West. The Beavers hadn’t played in a regional tournament since 1992.

“We definitely gotta go farther,” Koesters said. Farther would be the state final four at Firestone Stadium in Akron.

The Beavers finished last season 25-5 and second in the Greater Western Ohio Conference behind Miamisburg. This season the Beavers are 12-2 and lead the GWOC at 8-1. They won 4-1 at Miamisburg on Tuesday and hosted the Vikings on Wednesday.

“It’s a mixture of having a lot of our returners back, but also the players that we’ve had added this year are believing in our process and our goals,” coach Megan Barrett said. “They’re helping our team continue to be one unit to continue the success.”

When something good happens on the field, the bench erupts with cheers. On Tuesday, the entire team greeted Koesters at home plate after each of her two home runs. She also doubled of the center-field fence and drove in all the Beavers’ runs.

“Everybody wants everybody to see succeed no matter what,” Ferguson said. “And everybody’s always hoping for them to be at their best and never wanting anyone else to fail. We’re all a family.”

After Barrett and her assistant coaches, the family leaders are Ferguson, the sophomore pitcher, and Koesters, the senior catcher and best hitter.

“They kind of create the vibe and set that expectation for the rest of the team to follow in the mental approach that they have defensively and offensively,” Barrett said. “We’re getting to that point where we’re producing up and down the lineup.”

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Beavercreek senior catcher Molly Koesters watches her second home run and seventh of the season leave the park in Tuesday's 4-1 victory at Miamisburg. Koesters is batting .650 with 25 RBIs. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

Beavercreek senior catcher Molly Koesters watches her second home run and seventh of the season leave the park in Tuesday's 4-1 victory at Miamisburg. Koesters is batting .650 with 25 RBIs. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

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Beavercreek senior catcher Molly Koesters watches her second home run and seventh of the season leave the park in Tuesday's 4-1 victory at Miamisburg. Koesters is batting .650 with 25 RBIs. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

Ferguson, a sophomore, leads the GWOC with 105 strikeouts in 76 innings and starters in ERA at 1.01. She can reach 63 mph, putting her at the level that draws Division I college interest. She’s heard about interest through the grapevine, but coaches can’t recruit her until she reaches junior status on Sept. 1.

Barrett said Ferguson’s fastball threw off some of the competition last year. Knowing hitters would be ready for the speed this year, Ferguson has developed more pitches and learned to change speeds.

“She really worked in the offseason on getting the spin,” Barrett said. “What’s starting to throw them off is she’s really worked on creating strong pitches all the way around.”

Ferguson’s goal to be great in high school and pitch at a high level in college led her to a new pitching coach. Since this past August, she has been traveling with her dad 2½ hours to Franklin, Indiana, once a week to train with Laura Rothrock.

“She’s definitely helping me get to that next level, which is amazing,” Ferguson said. “I really enjoy it. And spending time with my dad driving down there is always fun listening to music.”

Koesters, a senior, has caught many pitchers during the summers and in high school before Ferguson joined the team last year.

“She always puts it exactly where it needs to be,” Koesters said. “So it’s a lot easier than having to move across the plate to try and block the ball. Makes it a lot easier to be a catcher.”

Ferguson bats second and is second on the team with a .488 batting average. Koesters bats third and leads the GWOC with a .650 batting average, .702 on-base percentage, 25 RBIs and shares the lead with seven homers. She also wants to play in Division I but that must wait a year or two. Because recruiting was so off during the COVID-19 pandemic, Koesters didn’t get many offers. Her plan is to play at Lakeland Community College in the Cleveland area and finish her college career at a four-year school.

“I’m seeing the ball a lot better than I did last year,” Koesters said. “Last year, I was more in my head, and this year I’m just out there having fun and trying to be a competitor. Much more relaxed, especially where you follow this girl. She’s always on base. It’s easy to get RBIs that way.”

Ferguson enjoys the view of Koesters at the plate from whichever base she’s standing on.

“She can sometimes half swing in BP, and it looks like a moonshot,” Ferguson said. “She’s got some insane power. And her swing is so calm. It’s so fun to watch her hit.”

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