The circle can be a lonely place, but Faith Yoho doesn’t let the moment get too big for her.
Yoho, a junior pitcher on the Thomas Worthington softball team, knows what to do when things aren’t going her way.
“Usually when that happens, I call time and I have my teammates come in and we talk,” she said. “We just clear our heads and talk about anything but softball just to get relaxed.
“We just talk about what we had for lunch or where we’re going for dinner – just to get our minds off it for a second. Softball is all a mind game. You have to be strong in (your) mind to be able to use all of your skills correctly.”
Yoho is strong with the mental and physical aspects of the sport. Last season, she was second-team all-district and first-team all-league, hitting .444 with 36 hits, four home runs and 19 RBI and going 9-7 with a 2.93 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 121 2/3 innings.
“Her pitching, her hitting, her defense (and) leadership are going to really put us in a position to compete this year in the OCC and in the district,” second-year coach Patrick Finn said. “The team knows what type of leader she is and what type of skill set she brings. She’s up there with a lot of the top pitchers in the district. She can really hold her own.”
Last season was a step forward for Thomas even with the lost COVID-19 season of 2020. The Cardinals finished 13-12 overall and 3-7 in the OCC-Cardinal Division for their first winning season since 2014, when they were 15-12. Thomas posted just 16 wins from 2015-19, including a 3-17 mark in 2019.
There were plenty of reasons for the turnaround, Finn said.
Senior Saadielys Masonet (3B) was first-team all-district and all-league, hitting .407 with seven homers and 32 RBI. Senior catcher Emma McNeilly was honorable mention all-league.
“We have an outstanding third baseman in Sadie Masonet and catcher with Emma McNeilly,” Finn said. “We might have the most experienced outfield, potentially, with Sophia Rond, Olivia Ankrom and Ally Mannello all being seniors. Defensively, I thought we were strong last year.”
Sophomore Gracelyn Schmidt (2B) and freshmen Katie Niven (SS) and Sophie Newsom (1B) are all strong defenders who also will contribute at the plate.
“We’re a little bit more athletic and we’ve got some more team speed, especially with Grace Schmidt, and we have two freshmen in Sophie Newsom and Katie Niven,” Finn said. “They are providing us with some team speed. We’re going to be able to play a little bit more small ball and take advantage of the base paths a little more.”
Yoho has a simple philosophy that she uses as a reminder for her teammates each game.
“I tell them at the beginning of every game (there are) 21 outs,” she said. “They know that I have their back and I know they have mine. I always tell them I believe in them and I’m here for them and we’re going to do this together.”
•Coach: Ashley Daugherty, first season
•Top players: Sara Dale, Sutton Evans, Brynley Rung and Yvonne Wang
•Key losses: Morgan Beals
•Last year: 4-18 overall
•2021 OCC-Capital standings: Delaware (13-0), Westerville North (10-4), Westerville South (10-4), Canal Winchester (9-5), Big Walnut (5-9), Dublin Scioto (4-8), Kilbourne (3-11), Franklin Heights (0-13)
•2021 postseason: Lost to Pickerington Central 10-0 in second round of Division I district tournament
•Outlook: New coach Ashley Daugherty has one goal ahead of all others – grow the program. Kilbourne had just 11 players on last year’s varsity team and was down to 10 this year before Daugherty decided to not field a j.v. squad.
Junior Brynley Rung (SS) batted .333 on 22 hits with a team-leading six homers and 24 RBI last year. Juniors Yvonne Wang (C) and Sara Dale (OF) also were solid at the plate, with both batting .397. Wang had 29 hits and 10 RBI, and Dale collected 22 hits and drove in 20.
Sutton Evans (1B) and Yurika Palmer (OF) are the only seniors on the team. Freshman Becca Boue is slated to be Kilbourne’s top pitcher.
•Quotable: “We only have two seniors this year, so it’s definitely a rebuilding year. (We’re) definitely re-growing. We’re probably about 60% freshmen and sophomores – we’re definitely young. I just really want to build this up into a softball community, really from (youth) up – just trying to bring back the love of the game.” – Daugherty
Coach: Patrick Finn, second season
•Top players: Olivia Ankrom, Ally Mannello, Saadielys Maysonet, Emma McNeilly, Sophia Rond, Gracelyn Schmidt and Faith Yoho
•Key losses: Tori DeTemple, Reid Dunbar, Alli Kiehl and Brianna Waltermyer
•Last season: 13-12 overall
•2021 OCC-Cardinal standings: Marysville (9-1), Olentangy Berlin (7-3), Hilliard Darby (7-3), Thomas (3-7), Dublin Jerome (2-8), Olentangy (2-8)
•2021 postseason: Lost to Gahanna 7-1 in second round of Division I district tournament
•Coach: Dani Ramos, first season
•Top players: Maddy Ball, Haddie Leverette, Whitney McGlothlin, Olivia Scholl and Paige Tomallo
•Key losses: Lilly Heidorn, Mary Lake, Abby Lanker and Mia Schoonover
•Last season: 15-12 overall
•2021 MSL-Ohio standings: Buckeye Valley (10-0), Bexley (7-3), Worthington Christian (7-3), Grandview (3-6), Whitehall (1-7), Wellington (0-9)
•2021 postseason: Def. Africentric 22-3; lost to Cardington 10-4 in Division III district semifinal
•Outlook: After serving as a coach with Worthington Christian’s middle school program the past three seasons, Dani Ramos has taken over the Warriors after Matt Heidorn was the coach the past five years.
Ramos, who played for Kent State from 2012-15, has a pair of seniors leading the way in Olivia Scholl (P/utility) and Paige Tomallo (SS/2B). Scholl will be the No. 1 pitcher, with freshman Haddie Leverette catching and serving as another pitching option.
Freshman Katelyn Szczgiel-Hicks is at shortstop and also can pitch, while Junior Maddy Ball (2B/OF) and sophomore Whitney McGlothlin (1B) are other key returnees.
Sophomores Joely Bussey (OF), Deyona Johnston (OF) and Sabina Neihoff (OF) and freshmen Sophie Burns (OF), Lola Godorhazy (1B), Haley Huffman (3B), Emerson Kraynak (OF/2B) and Annah Neihoff (OF) are others looking to fill roles.
Among the biggest losses to graduation was Heidorn’s daughter, Lilly Heidorn, who batted .589 with 26 RBI, 41 runs scored and 25 stolen bases. She is now playing for Liberty.
•Quotable: “I would love to see our team develop and grow. We have a great group of kids that love the game of softball. Some players play elite travel ball and some have never played before. My goal is for us to learn the game and compete against every team we play against.” — Ramos
This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Softball: Thomas Worthington relying on Yoho’s arm, leadership