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Diamond Cutters

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Connersville’s Jeri Ellis goes through her motion on a pitch against Cambridge City Lincoln last spring at Spartan Field. Ellis and the Lady Spartans are scheduled to open their season Saturday against Oldenburg Academy.
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Connersville’s Allison Woytik makes a play from her shortstop position last spring against Union County. Woytik, whospent much of her time behind the plate as the Lady Spartan catcher, will return to shortstop for her senior season.
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Connersville’s Madison Fields, a junior, led the Lady Spartans with 10 home runs in 2018. Along with four others, Fields returns for her senior season with the team.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

If Mother Nature cooperates, the Connersville High School softball team will begin another long march to the postseason, Saturday at home against Oldenburg Academy.

The hope for the Lady Spartans is that this time around, things go a little better in the sectional.

Last season, Connersville was excused from the tournament by New Palestine in an 18-0 loss. The Lady Dragons, ranked among the top teams in the nation, went on to win the Class 3A state championship, 3-1 over South Bend St. Joseph.

If the Spartans are to expect a better outcome in the sectional this season, they’re going to need all the focus they can muster.

New Palestine is once more standing in their way.

“Of course our goal is to win it all at the sectional, it always is,” Connersville head coach David Ellis said. “But right now, we’re just focusing on getting better throughout the regular season, so that we’ll be competitive in the postseason.

“We are aware that New Palestine has nearly everyone back from that team last year, so we know it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a tall order for us. But, we will go in there and play it one game at a time.”

Connersville will field a core group of five seniors, all of whom are experienced sectional champions, having won that crown in both 2016 and 2017.

“Having that experience back is going to help a lot,” Ellis said.

The five upperclassmen are Jeri Ellis, Madison Fields, Ashley Ruble, Katie Steele and Allison Woytik.

Ellis enters her fourth year as the starting pitcher for the Spartans. She is coming off a junior campaign in which she finished 10-9 with an ERA of 3.45. She collected 132 strikeouts in her 121 innings of work. 

Ellis also led the team at the plate, coming away with a team-high batting average of .424.

Fields is Connersville’s first baseman, and led the team in home runs and RBI last season with 10 and 35, respectively. She was fourth on the team with a batting average of .355. Fields also threw 35 innings for CHS last season, registering 16 strikeouts.

Ahead of her at No. 2 and 3 in the team batting race was Ruble (.390) and Woytik (.386). Ruble will play third base this season, and spend some time on the mound as well. Last season, she finished 2-0 as a hurler, with an ERA of 2.62.

Woytik spent a lot of 2018 behind the plate as CHS’ catcher, which hurt the Spartans defensively, as it took her away from her typical position at shortstop. This season, however, she will return to her infield spot.

Steele will open as the team’s right-fielder this season. She finished 2018 with 13 RBI and 11 runs.

Beyond the five seniors, the Spartans get young with two sophomores and seven freshmen. There are no junior on the team.

Paige Dunaway will begin her CHS career at catcher, allowing Woytik’s return to shortstop. Dunaway has already shown some promise at the plate, smacking a home run in her second at-bat in a recent scrimmage with Jennings County.

The two sophomores, Haylee Perry and Hailey Elliott, both have some experience on the varsity roster, the former appearing in 20 games as freshmen last season, and the latter playing in 18 contests. Both will spend time in the outfield for Connersville this year.

Splitting time with them in the outfield will be newcomers Tori Hanson, Abby Badore, Kara Schneider, LaKyah Scott, Hannah Sizemore and Kamren Stant. Sizemore and Hanson could also see some time on the infield.

Despite the young squad, coach Ellis believes that his unit has the talent to accomplish a couple of goals.

“We want to win 20 games, and at least be in the discussion of winning the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference at the end of the season,” he said.

He admits that there are a few teams his charges will need to hurdle if they are to do that.

“Greensburg is going to be good, as is East Central,” he said. “I believe that Franklin County will also be strong, and South Dearborn always seems to be there at the end.”



2019 Roster

Seniors — Jeri Ellis, Ashley Ruble, Madison Fields, Katie Steele, Allison Woytik.

Juniors — None.

Sophomores — Haylee Perry, Hailey Elliott.

Freshmen — Paige Dunaway, Tori Hanson, Abby Badore, Kara Schneider, LaKyah Scott, Hannah Sizemore, Kamren Stant.

Head coach — David Ellis

2019 Schedule

March 30 vs. Oldenburg Academy 11 a.m.

April 1 vs. New Castle 5 p.m.

April 2 at East Central 5:30 p.m.

April 6 at Union County 11 a.m.

April 8 vs. Rushville 5 p.m.

April 10 at Mt. Vernon-Fortville 6 p.m.

April 11 vs. Richmond 5:30 p.m.

April 13 at South Dearborn 11 a.m.

April 15 at Batesville 5:30 p.m.

April 16 vs. Shelbyville 5:30 p.m.

April 20 vs. Lawrenceburg 11 a.m.

April 22 at Franklin County 5:30 p.m.

April 23 vs. Batesville 5:30 p.m.

April 25 at Knightstown 5:30 p.m.

April 27 at Greensburg 11 a.m.

April 30 vs. Pendleton Heights 6 p.m.

May 1 vs. Franklin County 5:30 p.m.

May 6 vs. East Central 5 p.m.

May 7 at New Palestine 5:30 p.m.

May 9 at Cambridge City Lincoln 5 p.m.

May 11 at Madison-Grant 10 a.m.

May 15 at Rushville 5 p.m.

May 20 at Sectional (New Palestine) TBA

May 21 at Sectional (New Palestine) TBA

May 22 at Sectional (New Palestine) TBA

May 23 at Sectional (New Palestine) TBA

May 28 at Regional (TBA) TBA

June 1 at Semi-State (TBA) TBA

June 8 at State (TBA) TBA