DARKE COUNTY – A pair of senior athletes who will go down as two of the best in Greenville High School history are The Daily Advocate’s spring sports athletes of the year.
The Daily Advocate’s spring sports athletes of the year are Greenville boys track and field athlete Aaron Balsbaugh and Greenville softball player Ally Russell.
Balsbaugh qualified for state for a second consecutive season as a senior. After making it to Columbus in the 800 meters as a junior, he helped lead the Green Wave’s 4×800 meter relay team to state as a senior. He and his Green Wave teammates finished 14th in the Division I 4×800 relay.
“He’s one of those kids that come around about every 20, 25 years,” Greenville track and field coach Bill Plessinger said. “We’re going to miss him. All the awards that are coming his way are well deserved. He’s a good kid. He works hard. I can’t think of a more deserving person.”
Balsbaugh qualified for the regional tournament in four events as a senior – the 4×400 meter relay, the 4×800 relay, the 800 meter run and the high jump.
“To qualify for four events at regionals, that was amazing,” Plessinger said. “Of all the highlights, that’s probably the biggest highlight because to get to that stage from districts to regionals is very hard for us and to go in four events is tremendous.”
The Greenville senior led all Darke County athletes in the 400 meter dash at 52.33, in the 800 meter run in 1:55.64, in the 1,600 meter run this year at 4:27.13 and in the high jump at 6 feet 4 inches.
“Everything he tried he was one of the top in the county,” Plessinger said. “I’ve been coaching 18 years or whatever and he’s the best one I’ve had so far as far as doing everything and accomplishing that much.”
Russell helped lead the Greenville softball team to a 28-4 overall record during the 2015 season and a 10-0 record in the Greater Western Ohio Conference, helping the Lady Wave win another GWOC North championship.
Russell, the lone senior on Greenville’s softball team, also helped guide the Wave to a No. 1 ranking in the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association state rankings. The Lady Wave advanced all the way to the regional finals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament before losing to eventual state champion Granville.
“Leadership takes you a long way, especially as a pitcher,” Greenville softball coach Jerrod Newland said.
As Greenville’s ace pitcher, Russell compiled a 28-4 record and a 0.97 ERA. She struck out 214 batters and posted 12 shutouts.
The Greenville senior is an excellent athlete who could have played anywhere on the field, Newland said.
“She can probably play all nine spots on the field,” he said. “Just did a great job pitching for us.”
Russell also excelled hitting as she had a .394 batting average as a senior. In 94 at-bats she had 13 doubles, four home runs and 18 RBIs.
“Just proud of her,” Newland said. “Good things happen to kids who work hard.”
Russell finished her high school career as Greenville’s record holder for career wins as a pitcher.
She was named first team all-GWOC by the conference, the GWOC North softball player of the year by the conference, first team all-Ohio by the OHSFSCA, first team all-North Region by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, second team all-America by the NFCA and was named to the Ohio All Stars softball team that competed against the USA Junior Women’s National Team.
“Just a storied career and great way to do it,” Newland said.
Now that her high school career is finished, Russell will advance to the college ranks and play for Wright State University.
“Her best days are ahead,” Newland said.