Greenville’s softball formula: “It’s contagious; it gets in the water”

It’s no surprise Greenville has another great girls high school softball season going. When growing up in Darke County’s largest city, that’s what girls do.

“This is what our youth live for,” said Greenville head coach Jerrod Newland, who first established then has maintained an unmatched level of area softball excellence by the Green Wave.

“The younger kids coming up through school, they want to be the next of those kids. It’s neat to see all these kids playing at the next level. It’s contagious; it gets in the water.”

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Greenville (16-1) took a nine-game win streak into a three-game series in the Wendy’s Spring Classic at Ashland, but the high-caliber weekend event was rained out.

Greenville has just one senior – outfielder Lani Shilt – and is loaded with 10 juniors, four sophomores and a couple freshmen. All are interchangeable and productive, a must to crack this varsity roster.

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Junior outfielder Morgan Gilbert is the best hitter (.483) and owns team highs in hits (29), doubles (8) and stolen bases (9). She’s verbally committed to the University of Tennessee-Martin.

“She’s usually the best player on the field,” Newland said. “We have a lot of kids who have been through the storm. That makes this lineup tough.”

Sophomores Kennedy Fashner (7-1, 2.09 ERA) and Grace Shaffer (5-0, 2.51 ERA) team with junior Caitlin Christman (4-0, 1.78) to form a formidable pitching staff. Fashner is a lefty, the others right-handed.

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“That makes it really nice,” Newland said. “It’s three different looks with three different kids.”

Greenville (12-0) is in command in the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North after sweeping Tippecanoe (14-5, 8-3) earlier this month. The Green Wave has won 11 Division II district titles in the last 13 seasons.

Last year Clinton-Massie bumped Greenville off the tourney trail in a regional semifinal. That served as payback, because Greenville did the same to Massie in 2017.

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Another deep postseason run – and a trip to the state final four – are annual Greenville goals.

“It’s a great group of kids who have been together for a while,” Newland said. “The kids work hard and look forward for the opportunity to compete. Our goal is always to get to Akron and win a state championship.”

• The Southwestern Buckeye League Southwest Division is loaded. Brookville (14-2) and Monroe (12-2) share first place, both at 8-1. In third is Eaton (13-3, 7-3).

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Brookville swept Eaton early in the season and is at Monroe on Tuesday. Brookville junior first baseman/outfielder Jessica Brown leads the SWBL in home runs (10). Eaton senir pitcher Annika Gels is tied for first in wins (12) and is second in strikeouts (126).

• Springfield (9-7) has a legitimate shot at its first GWOC divisional title since the merger of North and South. The Wildcats are just 4-4 in the GWOC National East, but that’s good for first and a one-game lead over Fairmont and Centerville, which recently swept the Wildcats.

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Springfield junior Taryn Freer, a first baseman and pitcher, leads the GWOC in hitting (.691) and RBIs (36). She also has six home runs and a 4-2 pitching record (25 strikeouts in 24.2 innings.).

The other GWOC divisional leaders going into Saturday’s games were Xenia (11-7, 6-4) in the American South and Springboro (12-5, 7-0) in the National West.

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Piqua senior Mariah Blankenship leads the GWOC in pitching wins (14-5). Springboro senior pitcher Molly Pfiffner is first in strikeouts (119).

• Minster (17-0) is the area’s only remaining unbeaten softball team. The Wildcats (5-0) hold a one-game advantage over Versailles (7-7, 4-1) in the Midwest Athletic Conference after blanking the Tigers 6-0 on Tuesday.

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• Mandatory coaches meetings are Sunday at various locations to determine seeds and brackets for the upcoming sectionals. The postseason begins May 6 and concludes with the season-ending state tournaments at Akron from May 30 through June 1.

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