High School softball: Unselfish Vikings off to 13-0 start

Miamisburg junior Amariah Hoerner (No. 7) and freshman Alley Haas has provided a 1-2 pitching punch for the Vikings. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED
Miamisburg junior Amariah Hoerner (No. 7) and freshman Alley Haas has provided a 1-2 pitching punch for the Vikings. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED

MIAMISBURG – For the Miamisburg Vikings softball team, post-game talks center around ways the team can improve.

With an undefeated record and the No. 9 ranking in the Division I poll, it wouldn’t be surprising if those chats were short after most games.

Coach Dan Kepple’s team takes a 13-0 record in Thursday’s game at West Carrollton. The Vikings are outscoring opponents an average of 9-2.

“I certainly knew we were capable of it. We’ve got the talent and group of good kids. None of them play selfish,” Kepple said.

That includes the strong-armed pitching staff. Junior Amariah Hoerner (8-0) leads Miamisburg with a 2.08 earned-run average and 68 strikeouts in 50.1 innings pitched. Freshman Alley Haas (5-0) has a 2.35 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 35.2 innings.

“It’s great. If one of them starts struggling we don’t miss a beat to put the other one in,” Kepple said. " … I’d say Amariah is more seasoned so we try to go with Amariah to start, but we’re very comfortable alternating with both. I’m personally a big believer in teaching the game and letting the kids play. I let my pitchers call their own games. They call their own pitches. … My opinion is nobody knows what pitch you’re feeling good about better than you.”

Senior Kamryn Brooks leads the team with a .425 average. Hoerner (.432), junior Abbie Keilholz (.405), senior Claire Scully (.383) and sophomore Chandler Hoskins (.381) are also among the leaders.

Senior Grayce Dyer and Hoskins both have a team-high 11 RBI, and Hoskins has scored 14 runs. Freshman Jayleigh Thomas leads with 11 stolen bases.

Four senior starters have provided quality leadership. Brooks catches and hits No. 3 in the lineup. Scully plays right field and hits No. 2. Dyer hits No. 9 and Alex Miller has been key at second base.

Miamisburg senior first baseman Grayce Dyer has helped lead the Vikings to a 13-0 record. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED
Miamisburg senior first baseman Grayce Dyer has helped lead the Vikings to a 13-0 record. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED

“Offensively, top to bottom we’ve been on fire,” said Kepple, now in his fourth season with the Vikings. “Different kids are getting hot at different times. … We’ve been consistently spreading it out through the year.”

The Vikings have won nine of their 13 games by four runs or more, but they have been tested. And for fans who can’t get to the games in person they’re often broadcast by a parent on Miamisburg Fastpitch on Facebook.

In a 13-12 win against Centerville on April 15, Hoskins belted a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth for the eventual winning runs. She also homered in the third.

In a 7-6 win against Milford on April 9, Dyer delivered an RBI walk-off single on a full count. Hoerner’s triple earlier in the inning tied the game. Dyer also hit a game-tying grand slam in the fourth.

“We’ve also got four kids who have kind of bounced back and forth from varsity and JV,” Kepple said. “They’ve had awesome attitudes and been difference makers in games when we needed them. The whole group has been a lot of fun to coach.”

Miamisburg’s spot atop the Greater Western Ohio Conference standings faces a tough challenge with Fairmont (3-6, 1-0 GWOC) on Friday and two games with Beavercreek (12-1, 5-1 GWOC) on Monday and Wednesday.

Beavercreek is ranked No. 6 in the state poll.

As for their own state ranking, Kepple appreciates the respect but the ranking isn’t a topic of conversation after games or at practices.

“I don’t pay any attention to it. The only thing I focus on is how do we play better each time we get together,” Kepple said. “That’s the only thing we talk about after the games – what can we learn from it.”

Poll position: In addition to Miamisburg and Beavercreek, several additional area teams were ranked in the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association poll.

In Division II, Greenville was ranked No. 4. In Division IV, Bradford grabbed the No. 5 spot, receiving two first-place votes, and Minster came in at No. 7.

No area teams were ranked among the top 10 in Division III.

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