Monday, July 22, 2024

Softball Preview: Harvey Red Raiders

Fresh off winning the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division title, the Harvey Red Raiders are reloading for another championship run.

Harvey returns just three starters from last year’s squad that finished 12-2 overall and 7-1 in league play, but head coach Betsy Hada is confident the Red Raiders have the potential to go back-to-back.

“We have expanded our roster with quality young players,” Hada said. “The combination of veterans and newcomers will make us a tough team to beat this year. We have a lot of depth in the bullpen. Every single one of our pitchers also plays a defensive position. It opens up a plethora of options for us defensively without having to make a substitution.”

Hada sees the graduation loss of nine players as an opportunity for younger players to make their mark on the program.

“I am enthusiastic about this group of incoming new athletes,” she said. “With so many open positions, this group has an opportunity to come in and make a huge impact right away.”

Harvey’s three returning starters each earned All-CVC honors last spring.

Senior catcher/infielder Lola Thomas was a first-team selection after batting .629 with 19 runs batted in and 35 stolen bases.

“Lola has been our rock behind the plate and a dominant catcher in the CVC for the last three
Seasons,” Hada said. “She understands the different personalities of her pitching staff and how to help them be successful come game day. Other teams know not to mess with her on basepaths. She has a hot bat and speed to burn, snagging 35 bases in the last two years. Lola is well-respected by her teammates and coaching staff. She is willing to hold the rope for our team when we need her the most.”

Thomas also earned second-team all-district last spring and was a second-team All-CVC performer in 2021.

Senior pitcher/infielder Alexa Bailey, a Heidelberg commitment, earned second-team All-CVC and honorable mention all-district honors last spring. She batted .381 with a .643 slugging percentage.

She’ll serve as Harvey’s primary pitcher this season.

“Alexa is returning for her senior season as a dominant CVC pitcher,” Hada said. “She has worked hard in the offseason, perfecting her spin and working hard to improve her overall speed. She will be a spark at the top of our lineup.”

Bailey earned the Chagrin Division’s MVP award in 2021.

Junior third baseman Alyssia Franklin also returns after earning honorable mention all-conference honors last spring.

“Alyssia played her first softball season last year and started with a bang,” Hada said. “She stepped up in crucial pressure situations late in games and came up with the big hit. She embraces the pressure situations at the plate and plays a tough hot corner. We are looking for her to step up as a go-to leader in our program this season.”

Rounding out the projected starting lineup are first baseman Keera Bafford, second baseman Norico Guerra, shortstop Dana Ramirez, left fielder Cynthia Flores, center fielder Abby Patlan, and right fielder Veronica Pacheco.

Ava Oberstar will provide depth at first and third and Flores could see time at second. Bailey will play shortstop when she isn’t pitching.

Bafford, Guerra, Flores, Ramirez, and Pacheco also could throw some innings for the Red Raiders this season.

“Alexa will be our No. 1 pitcher with the rest of our pitchers rotating in based on the scouting report for each opponent,” Hada said.

While Harvey has many new faces in the lineup, the Red Raiders have plenty of diversity to put together the lineup that best sets them up for success.

“Our biggest strength this season comes from the versatility of our players,” Hada said. “It allows everyone an opportunity to contribute in a way that best suits the team’s needs in a given game, which in turn helps us gain the upper hand over our opponents. The versatility that we will bring to the field comes from the hard work and dedication that everyone associated with the program has put in, both on the field and in the classroom since the year began. The girls’ energy is contagious, and they
never fail to hold the rope for each other. We have been having excellent conversations about the
game and embracing teachable moments.”

Harvey’s success is directly tied to each player understanding her role and putting forth a consistent effort each game.

“Every season is different, and I am excited to see who seizes their opportunity to contribute,” Hada said. “We have all of the pieces. It comes down to execution and handling any unexpected bumps along the way. Judging by our preseason practices, we will have a number of young players step up and contribute in big ways.”

 

Steve Hare
Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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