Wooster is one of the schools in the area to feel a numbers pinch as the Generals will suit up only 18 players this spring. Those numbers mean Wooster will only carry a varsity team, which will carry ramifications long-term as it looks to claw back from a 6-15 campaign a year ago. The redeeming aspect of that record was the Generals were 6-8 in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, finishing fifth in the league.
Schumacher will welcome back six letter winners and some depth in the circle, which will give Wooster some hope to make that flip. One is senior Carmen Soranno, who was Wooster’s top pitcher last year, who will be making her delivery to veteran classmate Alicia Carter. Junior Hannah Rehm lettered last season and will see her pitching role expanded, while sophomore Alyssa Aukerman and freshman Shawna Russell will also see pitching time to bring depth to that position.
“It’s fair to say we’re deeper in pitching this year,” said Schumacher. “We have a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior, and all of them are capable of taking the ball at any time. That will give us a different look because everyone offers something a little different.”
They will be backed up by a veteran infield, which will help relieve some of the pressure as well. Carter will step behind the plate as the starting backstop, while sophomore Paige Dickerhoof and her .360 batting average returns at third, Junior Courtney Dunlap is back at shortstop, while classmate Kaitlyn Aukerman, another letter winner, is looking for playing time in the infield as well.
“We were definitely young last year with sophomores and freshmen throughout the lineup,” said Schumacher. “Defense should be one of our fortes. We’re solid and have experience at this point.”
That group will also fill in at some other spots depending on who is pitching. Rehm will see time in the outfield while Carter will step in at first base as well. Soranno will also play center field when she is not pitching, with Jessica Gerber, a junior, who will patrol center field when Soranno is in the circle and left field when she is not. A couple of freshmen out of “a strong freshman class” will get an opportunity to play in the outfield as Brianna Bocook and Julia Massary have looked good in the early going.
Back-ups will represent a blend of youth and experience, Schumacher noted.
“At third base we have a freshman, a junior at second, first base could be a freshman or a senior,” she said. “Shortstop is where… we have to find someone. Our numbers are down, so we only have one team, which makes us flexible and deep at any position, but I don’t know if that is going to be an asset or not until the season begins.”
Schumacher is hoping the numbers situation will be short-term as “I think the junior-high numbers are steady,” she said.
“In theory this (third season) should be easier, but it hasn’t played out that way,” said Schumacher. “Our numbers are down and we’ve had some injuries, so it’s been a tough year.
“It’s area-wide in the entire northeast Ohio district. Schools are struggling to get a JV team and those that do have them are struggling to find games. For whatever reason geographically, the numbers are down. Waynedale and Hillsdale don’t have teams... and Hillsdale was at State just two years ago. Orrville was on the brink, but I think they were able to hold together.
“I’m excited to have the flexibility,” she added. “Carmen was our sole pitcher last year. Hannah has another year under her belt so she will have more composure. The experience will have done her well. The depth helps the No. 1 pitcher knowing they don’t have to carry the team.”
Schumacher is expecting the offense to be better, but with graduated seniors gone and freshmen an unknown commodity, “the lineup looks different,” she noted.
“We have increased our speed and even our flexibility at the plate,” said Schumacher. “We’ll do what we can do. We’re going to take it one game at a time, depending on who the opposing pitcher is and what other teams have. I want to score runs anyway we can. We’ll do small-ball if that will relieve pressure on the big hitters. We won’t have one set philosophy.
“We’re going to take it one game at a time and look at one team at a time and hope we have success in the end.”
Wooster opened the season with a pair of OCC losses against Ashland. It will travel to West Holmes Tuesday, April 3 for another OCC contest and host the Lady Knights April 4.
Published: March 29, 2012