Beachwood’s softball program is trending up for the first time since COVID hit the program hard.
The Bison have six returning starters from last year’s squad that finished 6-7 overall, and head coach Mike Coreno is optimistic his squad has better days ahead of it.
“We have numbers in the program for the first time since COVID,” Coreno said. “Several players played in the offseason, which hopefully will help us be competitive.”
Coreno’s optimism stems from the fact that among Beachwood’s returning starters are several who have several years of varsity experience.
“We return most of our key positions, which should keep us in every game,” he said. “Our top four hitters are all back. We have a few freshmen at key positions that do not have varsity experience. We will continue to work hard in practice and early games to hopefully catch them up.”
Leading the way for the Bison are a pair of all-conference performers from last season in Ari Preston and Maya Grellar.
Preston is a junior shortstop and pitcher who earned second-team All-Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division honors after hitting .537 last spring.
“Ari is our most versatile player as she can pitch and play multiple positions in the infield,” Coreno said of the team’s leading hitter.
Grellar, one of four seniors in the starting lineup, will play left field. She was named first-team All-CVC last season after hitting .500.
Beachwood’s other seniors are first baseman Ryleigh Zabell, third baseman Emily Clar, and center fielder Nia Brown.
Brown batted .444 last season on the way to earning honorable mention All-CVC honors and Zabell posted a .486 batting average.
“All four seniors are in their third year as starters,” Coreno said. “They shore up the infield and the outfield defensively and are at the top offensively.”
Rounding out Beachwood’s startling lineup are sophomores Rachel Wolf (2B) and Chengyu Li (DP) and freshmen Mattie Spaller (C) ad Allie Rindsberg (RF).
Preston and Li will chew up most of the innings for the Bison on the circle.
With the combination of talent and experience Coreno has at his disposal, he’s confident the Bison are headed in the right direction, but it will take a team effort to compete for the Chagrin Division title.
“We need some young players to step up along with our veteran players playing to their potential,” he said.