By Josh Brown
MIAMI COUNTY — As the start of softball season nears, here are five pressing questions facing Miami County teams and athletes this spring:
1) How will another coaching change affect Troy?
Despite something of a rotating door at head coach in recent years, the Troy Trojans have still managed to gain forward momentum.
Troy is coming off of back-to-back winning seasons. Two years ago, under coach Megan Campbell, the Trojans went 17-11 and finished second in the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division, and then last season the team went 15-13 and won a share of the division title under coach Dan Cain in his second one-year stint with the team since long-time coach Ted Murray’s departure.
Since Murray left, though, the Trojans have had little continuity at coach. Cain, Campbell and Scott Herman each lasted two seasons apiece — and now Scott Beeler, an assistant under Cain last season, will take the reins of the program.
“I think I’m the fourth coach in six years,” Beeler said. “I’m hoping to bring some stability and continue to build on what Dan and (former coach) Megan (Campbell) started. They put the foundation in place, and I appreciate everything that they’ve done. I’m just excited for the opportunity to continue what they started.”
Fortunately for Beeler, though, the Trojans have a strong group of returning players coming back this year, including junior Savannah Nelson, who was tied for the GWOC lead in RBIs as a sophomore. With that core group back and a host of up-and-coming talent, the Trojans should perform well under Beeler’s tutelage.
2) How will Tippecanoe handle the move to the GWOC?
It’s the question that has faced every Tippecanoe team this year.
And while the answers have varied, by and large the results have been positive for the Red Devils. After the Devils claimed league titles in the fall in girls soccer and winter in girls basketball, the softball team is looking to keep that run going in the school’s first season in the GWOC
“We are feeling the pressure by the other Tippecanoe Lady Devils teams to perform,” Tippecanoe softball coach Scott Sutton said. “The female student-athletes at Tipp have performed very well this year, and we must continue that performance.”
Tippecanoe went 10-15 last year in its final season in the Central Buckeye Conference, the Devils’ first sub-.500 season in more than a decade. They have the returning players to keep the school’s GWOC success rolling — the only thing they need to do is put it all together.
3) How will Covington respond after Dean Denlinger’s departure?
The Covington Buccaneers went to the state tournament three straight seasons, from 2011 to 2013, under coach Dean Denlinger.
But Denlinger left in the offseason to take over the the Miami East baseball team, leaving the Buccaneers after their district runner-up finish last season.
Mechelle Heitkamp will take over the team this season looking to build on the foundation that Denlinger laid down.
4) Can Milton-Union find more magic for another tournament run?
Milton-Union has struggled in the regular season over the past few years, only to play its best softball once the postseason begins. Most recently, the Bulldogs went into the sectional tournament as the No. 10 seed last season — and then proceeded to defeat the No. 5 seed and the No. 1 seed on their way to the sectional title game, where their season ended.
The Bulldogs have a large group of returning players this season, and the potential is there to contend in the regular season as well as the postseason. Maybe they’d rather ask if they can put together a full season instead of just a playoff run.
5) How much of the season will actually happen?
Ohio’s weather has not been kind the past few springs — and since winter was an extended spring, with a seemingly never-ending rain in the place of snow, things don’t look good as the end of March approaches. The ground hasn’t been dry since the end of the fall season, and none of Miami County’s teams play in domed stadiums. The most uncertainty for any teams this spring — especially the ones playing on grass and dirt fields — will come from the skies above.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.