Youth movement underway at Bradford softball program


By Drew Terhall

BRADFORD — The Lady Railroaders will have another relatively inexperienced team heading into this season. After breaking in a lot of new starters last season, the Bradford softball team will be relying on some younger players to step in and play right away.

Head coach Shon Schaffer said they did lose some key seniors from last season, but does have a talented, young group this season.

“It’s definitely a different team. It’s fun vibe type of team. We’re starting six freshmen and will probably have a freshman pitcher pitch a lot. But, it’s fun group. An energized group,” Schaffer said. “It should be a fun year, I don’t know if it translates into the win column. They’re a scrappy bunch.”

They are returning at least three players that hit over a .300 batting average in junior Lailah Brewer and seniors Alani and Tegan Canan. Each also had 13+ RBI last season. Alani Canan was a member of the All-WOAC Second Team last season.

Alani and Tegan are the only two seniors on the team. Brewer and Lex Clark are the only two juniors. The rest of the 12 players on the roster are freshmen and sophomores.

The team will be put to the test each game with a tough schedule. Schaffer said he got over zealous with scheduling and added a lot of tough, higher division teams.

They open the season with Coldwater and have games against Beavercreek, Northmont, Greenville, Benjamin Logan and St. Henry just to name a few.

Schaffer said he expects the team to take their lumps, but he hopes his team can learn and grow from playing and watching these higher level teams. Even in their scrimmages, they got to play against a solid Fairborn team and see how their players played with confidence.

“I had the mentality of we are going to be young and we are going to be inexperienced. It was like sink or swim. I don’t want to play teams like us. I want to play teams that these girls can see players, like that pitcher from Fairborn. She’s a nice player and she had swagger. That’s what I want our girls to see so they can emulate that,” Schaffer said.

It will take time for the talent on the team to shine on the field. For a lot of the girls on the team, it will be their first time playing at the high school level.

Schaffer said the softball skills are there with this team. It’s going to take time for the team to get acclimated to the speed of the varsity

“It is a huge difference, it’s fast. Especially when you play bigger schools and faster schools. It’s just speeding the girls up,” Schaffer said. “I think the skill is there. But when you got to play that much faster, errors happen, drop balls and bad throws. Because they’re trying to play so much faster. They get it and they’re like, ‘Oh my god, she’s almost there,’ and they hurry the throw. It’s just trying to play faster.”

Even with an inexperienced team last season, the Lady Railroaders went 9-12 last season. They had more success in conference play as they finished tied for second in the WOAC with a 9-2 conference record.

Schaffer said he is confident they will clean up the young mistakes as the players play more games and get more experience.

Despite the inexperience, the Lady Railroaders have the talent to be competitive this season.

“I think we’ll be competitive and the girls, I think, are going to have fun,” Schaffer said.

Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]

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