Build it and they will come.
Beachwood opened its new softball facility this spring and the Bison responded by winning their first conference title since the late 1970s or early 1980s.
“We finished 11-7, and while that’s not the first time we’ve had double-digit wins, it’s the first time our winning percentage was that good,” said Beachwood coach Mike Coreno. “After COVID, we went 10-9, but last year we were 6-7, and before COVID, we were right around .500. For this team to go 11-7, it was big.”
Beachwood entered its final game of the season on May 12 needing a win at Harvey to share the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division title with the Red Raiders, the league’s defending champions.
Harvey struck first with a run in the bottom of the first inning, but the Bison responded with five runs in the top of the second and never trailed in winning that game—and a share of the title—14-9.
“The four seniors knew it was their last game, win, lose, or draw,” Coreno said. “We had gotten run-ruled the night before in the tournament by Wickliffe and they just came out knew that had to do whatever they could to win. We had some targets; we knew we would have to score some runs because we knew Harvey could score. We wanted to try to score a couple of runs every inning and they did their job.”
Beachwood’s seniors stepped up the challenge.
Ryleigh Zabell led the Bison at the plate as she finished the game 5-for-5 with a triple, two runs scored, and three runs batted in. Emily Clar went 3-for-5 with a double, four runs scored, and an RBI. Nia Brown added a hit for the Bison and Maya Greller scored a run for the Bison.
Junior Ari Preston contributed with a solid day at the plate and in the circle.
She went 2-for-5 with a triple, two runs scored, and two RBI, and she allowed just two earned runs on three hits and struck out four in her complete-game victory.
Beachwood’s league title didn’t happen by accident.
Coreno and the Bison have been working hard to improve the program’s competitiveness, and that wasn’t easy, especially following the pandemic.
“When we came back from COVID, some kids didn’t want to play and we scurried around just to get to 10 players that year,” Coreno said. “Last year, we got to 11, and this year we’re at 13, so the program is picking back up again.”
Preston was Beachwood’s lone senior, which means the Bison will have just one experienced senior on the roster next year.
That doesn’t scare Coreno as he was pleased with the play of his underclassmen, especially freshman catcher Mattie Spaller.
“Our young kids surprised me; they did a nice job,” Coreno said. “We have a league filled with some good catchers. We had a freshman catcher, and in our league, to have a freshman catcher was kind of scary for us because everybody else had experienced catchers, but Mattie did a good job.”
Preston returns in the circle for the Bison, but she’s not a pitcher by trade. She plays in the middle infield for her summer team.
“Once our season comes, she pitches for us,” Coreno said. “She had a really good season.”
Despite losing four seniors, Beachwood’s future remains bright with Preston and a host of talented and experienced underclassmen returning.
“We’ve got Ari back for one more year and we have some sophomores who will be juniors,” Coreno said. “We have an eighth grader that will come in and take some pressure off Ari pitching because she’s been pitching for a couple of years in the middle school program and looks good. But, we’ll have to spend our winter hitting the ball to produce more runs.”
Beachwood and Harvey tied for first place with 7-1 records in conference play.
Coreno and Harvey coach Betsy Hada were named Co-Coaches of the Year.
The Bison landed six players on the All-CVC Chagrin Division team.
Zabell, Brown, and Preston were first-team selections, Clar was named to the second team, and Greller and Allie Rindsberg were honorable mention selections.