I’m Anthony Hartwig, Social Media and content director at YSN, and this is my new blog, Hot Corner. In the hot corner, we will be talking softball. All softball, all the time. There’s so much to talk about in this great sport. From the elite level of division 1, and professional softball to the youth travel organizations softball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country. We’re going to have some fun with the local, and national scope of softball, and maybe have some special guests along the way.
To kick things off in issue 1 of Hot Corner let’s talk playoff softball and what we might be seeing if it weren’t for COVID-19. Locally, when it comes to postseason softball all eyes would be on Champion. The Golden Flashes have won three Division III state championships in a row. Champion lost virtually nothing from their team a season ago, a team that did not allow a single run in tournament play. Led in the circle by Allison Smith, and Sophie Howell Champion’s pitching comes dangerously close to untouchable. Smith had an ERA of 0.14 in 2019. To dive deeper into what that means, in 102.2 innings pitched she gave up exactly 2 earned runs. She struck out 215 batters while only walking 15. Howell’s seems easy to hit following up those numbers but even her ERA was an impressive 1.52. Both will be division 1 pitchers next season. Most high school teams are lucky to have 1 D1 pitcher on their team and Champion rolls out two of them. And if you think the Flashes only get it done in the circle, you’d be dead wrong. As a team, Champion hit .408, with 52 HR’s, and 276 RBI. With five hitters in their lineup with at least 30 RBI, pitching to Champion was as much of a nightmare as trying to hit off them. The Flashes were poised, to say the least, to make it four state championships in a row. Their biggest obstacle might just be Cardington Lincoln, who they’ve beaten in the last two championship games. The Pirates were returning quite a bit of talent themselves, and it’s hard to beat a team in a state final three times.
Another team of note when talking about the local playoffs, of course, is Poland. They got to the state semifinals last season before falling to Jonathan Alder. Returning 7 of 9 starters the Bulldogs seemed like they’d be in a good position to make another run. The fact that this season they would have had Kaili Gross in all their games would have helped. Gross had an ERA of 0.78 last season in the first twelve games of the season. She’d be one of the premier aces in a pretty stacked NE8 as far as pitching goes. Poland separates themselves from the pack with their bats. As a team last year they hit .412. Poland hasn’t won a state championship since 2011, but this season might have been their best chance to change that narrative.
On the national stage, this past weekend would have been the end of the NCAA regular season, Sunday would host the selection show and the road to the WCWS would have started this week.
Here’s who I think would have made the WCWS based on what we saw in 2020.
The conference schedule never got started, and that’s when you really find out what these teams are made of. I definitely believe the PAC-12 is back on the rise after a long period of SEC dominance in the sport.
We won’t have champions at any level in 2020, no gold medal to be won, no national champion crowned, no state title dreams achieved. But the conversations and the growth of the sport have to continue. We can not let this virus backtrack the hard work that so many people have put in for the growth of the game. So keep on joining me in the Hot Corner and we’ll talk some softball.
Do you have some softball topics you want to be discussed? Guests you’d like to see in future blogs? Let me know! You can find me on Facebook at Anthony Hartwig, Twitter, and Instagram @ahartwig01.