Thu. Mar 23rd, 2023

Employees file photo / Brian Yauger
Mathews’ Olivia Matheny celebrates with teammates through a game final season Matheny is set to be one particular returner who will make an effect for Mathews.

1 of the gold requirements of Trumbull County softball more than the final decade and a half has been Mathews. Though the group has a young core, the expectations are the very same this year as they are almost each and every year.

Soon after a short reprieve to invest time with household, a familiar face is back to guide the Mustangs system this season. Longtime coach Jim Nicula is returning to the Mathews dugout for his 12th season with the system exactly where he’s amassed a record of 207-47 at the helm.

The Mustangs boast a young lineup, but there’s a lot of encounter nonetheless in the mix. Mathews returns a sophomore-heavy lineup that saw a substantial quantity of playing time final year. Headlined by sophomores Olivia Matheny, Ava Shugart, Kelsie Newsome and Ashia Pate, as nicely as lone senior Gianna Toto, the Mustangs are in excellent shape heading into the year.

“There’s a lot of equal talent,” Nicula mentioned. There are youngsters competing for positions ideal now and of course the returning starters from final year, they surely generally will get very first run in there and very first opportunity to nab it but they’re getting to perform tough. The majority of them actually are functioning tough to maintain positions and go on but yeah, we’re true. We’re actually excited.”

Every single position is going to be handled with a committee strategy early in the year. Like Nicula mentioned, the starters from final season will get very first crack, but they will have other girls nipping at their heels all through the selection course of action.

With that mentioned, the loss of Emma Gates will absolutely be felt this season, but Mathews is not in a dire predicament in the circle. In truth, the Mustangs have no shortage of fresh arms to throw into the mix when necessary.

Devoid of going into complete rotation specifics, Nicula described that he’s far more than confident in his crop of pitchers this year.

“The massive essential is going to be pitching, but I’ll inform you what, we essentially have seven youngsters that pitch,” Nicula mentioned. “We have 4 sophomores and 3 freshmen, and we’re extremely pleased with them. We’ve had a couple of scrimmage games so far indoors and we did extremely nicely. We’re playing Boardman this weekend which will be fascinating to see how they fare against a actually very good group that year in and year out, is true strong. We’re excited. I do not assume our pitching is going to fall off.”

More than the years, pitching has been a strength for Mathews, as the Mustangs have had numerous all-state pitchers.

“We’ve been blessed to have all-state pitching year soon after year soon after year,” Nicula mentioned. “Going all the way back to Cheyenne Eggens from the early 2010s. Cheyenne was all-state. Then we had Nicole Watts, who was an all-state pitcher and then Addy (Jarvis) and then, we had a year or two exactly where we had Becca (Landis) and Emma (Gates) who had been young, but then they ended up each becoming all-state pitchers.”

That level of accomplishment in the circle and level of group accomplishment has created playing for Mathews a tough factor to do. There’s a higher bar you have to meet. With that mentioned, Nicula thinks he has the ideal roster that can get back to exactly where they want to be. Producing the regionals has been good, but Nicula and the Mustangs are aiming a tiny bit larger than that.

“When they play softball at Mathews, you have a legacy to uphold, and the bar has been set extremely higher,” Nicula mentioned. “…We’re competing for a league championship and then district and beyond. Regardless of who is right here, we reload, and that is our purpose to get back to the state level. We’ve fallen brief in the regional level not too long ago, and we want to get more than that hump, and there’s no explanation why we really feel that we can not do that this year.

“The youngsters perform tough and remain the course and exhibit what we’re attempting to get them to do and you attitude and work you know me that is my greatest factor. You can move mountains when you have a excellent attitude and you give excellent work. In some cases that is way far more vital than the ability level you have.”

The road to get to Akron in June is not an effortless one particular, so the Mustangs ready themselves with a rigorous frequent season schedule. In addition to a difficult league slate with perennial leading teams Pymatuning Valley and Bristol and up-and-comers Chalker, Mathews will be taking on some of the state’s ideal teams.

As a aspect of the Wendy’s Classic in April, the Mustangs are scheduled to face Danville, Marlington and Strasburg.

Mathews will open its season at house against Pymatuning Valley on March 27 at five p.m.

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