High School softball: Elks have high hopes behind ‘dynamic’ senior

Centerville senior Emma Schutter returns as the GWOC’s top hitter. Her .607 average in 2019 set the Elks’ single-season record, surpassing Christine Scholle’s .538 in 2012. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED
Centerville senior Emma Schutter returns as the GWOC’s top hitter. Her .607 average in 2019 set the Elks’ single-season record, surpassing Christine Scholle’s .538 in 2012. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED

Centerville coach Wendell Hutchinson calls Emma Schutter ‘the best player in Ohio’

CENTERVILLE – Making a run at the Greater Western Ohio Conference title is the first goal for the Centerville Elks softball team.

After that is a run at No. 1 in the state.

Like the majority of teams in the Miami Valley – especially coming off the COVID-cancelled 2020 season – Elks coach Wendell Hutchinson would prefer more varsity experience. What he does have is one of the top players in the state.

Senior Emma Schutter returns as the GWOC’s top hitter. Her .607 average in 2019 as a sophomore set the Elks’ single-season record, surpassing Christine Scholle’s .538 in 2012.

Schutter joined then-senior Korina Murphy of Stebbins, who led the league with .652, as the only players to hit .600 or better in the GWOC.

ExploreHigh School baseball preview

“Obviously I’m going to be biased, but I believe Emma is the best player in Ohio,” Hutchinson said. “There might be some people that disagree but when you consider all the things she does, it’s pretty remarkable what she’s able to do.”

Schutter signed to play college softball at the University of Dayton, adding to her family legacy. Schutter’s sister, Maggie, played volleyball at UD from 2014-17. Their father, Mark, played on the tennis team from 1982-85.

Hutchinson said Schutter – a standout outfielder who will play shortstop for the Elks – is a standout slap-hitter who has added home-run power. She’s also a threat on the basepaths.

“Dayton got a great player, there’s no doubt about it. … She works extremely hard at all aspects of her game. She’s going to play shortstop for the high school team. And she’s just an phenomenal outfielder. There’s not one part of her game that is lacking. She’s just very dynamic.”

Centerville seniors Sydney Pilgrim (.244), Katie Warner (.317) and Schutter all received significant varsity at-bats in 2019, as did juniors Natalie Frazier (.182) and Anna Kauffman (.250) as freshmen.

Kauffman also returns the only varsity innings on the rubber. She pitched a team-high 51 innings in 2019, going 4-4 with a 2.74 ERA. She struck out 19.

“We don’t have as much varsity experience as I would like, but we have some kids that play travel ball,” Hutchinson said. “I expect us to be somewhere in the middle (with experience). … Everybody is a lot more excited. There’s more reason to be excited about this year than years past, for sure.”

Centerville, which has five seniors on the roster and starts two sophomores and three freshmen, enters this season as one of the favorites in the GWOC.

The last time high school softball saw the field was 2019. The GWOC has since scaled down to one eight-team division with the split of 10 former members into the two-division Miami Valley League.

“We’re young and we’re hopeful. I expect us to contend for sure,” Hutchinson said. “We have our goals and winning the league would be high. We’re also looking forward to making a run in the state tournament.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

(2019 stats)

Natalie Bates, junior, Chaminade Julienne: Hit .547 with 25 runs scored, 5 doubles, 3 triples and 3 home runs helping to account for 26 RBI.

Marissa Deeter, senior, Newton: All-state selection returns for the Indians, as does coaching legend Kirk Kadel.

Courtney Eschete, junior, Troy Christian: Hit .604 and scored 25 runs with 4 doubles, 7 triples, 4 homers and 37 RBI.

Amariah Hoerner, junior, Miamisburg: Tossed 119.2 innings with 149 strikeouts, going 14-6 with 3.51 ERA; hit .286 with 17 runs and 11 RBI.

Kaitlyn Husic, senior, Tippecanoe: A .523 hitter who scored 31 runs and had 23 RBI; added 11 doubles, 5 triples and 2 homers.

Kinsey Kunz, senior, Stebbins: Hit .553, scored 46 runs and knocked in 25 RBI; showed speed with 12 doubles, 4 triples, 3 homers and 28 stolen bases.

Briana Lavender, junior, Troy: Had .418 average highlighted by 10 triples and 11 steals; scored 29 runs and knocked in 25.

Jaden Lawrenz, senior, Waynesville: Hit .526, scored 31 runs and had 14 RBI; stole 14 bases.

Alyssa Lewis, senior, Beavercreek: Hit .387 with 17 stolen bases; scored 23 runs and knocked in 10.

Alli Parker, junior, West Carrollton: A .581 hitter who scored 37 runs with 15 RBI, 9 doubles, 4 triples and a homer.

Lexi Miller, senior, Eaton: Hit .488 with 26 runs and 29 RBI; finished with 9 doubles, a triple and 5 homers.

Skipp Miller, senior, Bradford: Returns from ACL injury suffered as a sophomore; guided Railroaders to state title game as a freshman pitcher.

Grace Shaffer, senior, Greenville: Went 12-2 with seven saves, 71 strikeouts and 1.76 ERA; hit .250.

Emma Schutter, senior, Centerville: Hit .607 with 32 runs and 11 RBI; had 3 doubles, 6 triples and stole 14 bases.

Gracie Taylor, junior, Dayton Christian: Hit .561, scored 31 runs and knocked in 36 with 13 doubles.

In Other News