Brookfield returns bevy of experience

Staff file photo / Brian Yauger Brookfield’s Miranda Nicholson hurls a pitch during the team’s 3-2 victory over Chalker in the district semifinals last season. Nicholson will be anchoring the circle this season as the Warriors’ ace.

BROOKFIELD — Brookfield softball has experience and plenty of it.

The Warriors return eight starters from last year’s district finalist squad including seniors Katie Gibson, Sophia Hook, and Miranda Nicholson.

After only losing one senior from that team, Brookfield is looking to make it back to the district finals and lift its first-ever district trophy.

“It’s a little bit different for us,” Warriors coach Dave DeJoy said. “We are moving from Division IV to Division III, so it’ll be a little bit of a new landscape for the team. At the same time, we’re also in a pretty unique position where we’re very senior-heavy. We have nine seniors right now and two juniors that had a lot of varsity experience last year. We have eight returning starters, so we have a lot of leadership and we have a lot of girls who have experience.”

Brookfield’s returners include their leaders in home runs (Abby DeJoy with 3), batting average (Sammi McAnany with a .442), hits (both Abby DeJoy and Hook, each with 22), RBIs (Hook with 18) and starting pitcher Nicholson, who recorded 110 strikeouts last season.

McAnany is a player poised for a further breakout this season. She came into the lineup in a road loss against Champion part-way through the season, and despite the loss, recorded multiple hits and served as a spark plug for the team.

From that point on, she became a staple in the lineup. She’ll be relied on as a focal point this season and they’re hoping McAnany will continue to be that spark.

“She was one that surprised all of us last year,” DeJoy said. “She’s done real well with her offseason workouts, and I’m hoping she can pick up where she left off.

Abby DeJoy, Jenae Pugh and Hook will each also be names to watch out for.

Having the roster Brookfield has, expect a lot of rotation and players in different spots. Given the talent the Warriors boast, it allows DeJoy to really tinker and move players around the field as needed.

With that said, Nicholson will be their ace in the circle, and the team will build around her arm and the team’s defense.

“We are deep in some positions,” DeJoy said. We have a lot of flexibility with talented girls. It’s going to come down to our defense and pitching. That’s certainly where we want to hang our hat and be strong during the season.”

The Gray Tier of the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference is expected to be a gauntlet as always. With teams like Champion, Garfield, Crestview and Newton Falls standing in the way of Brookfield this season, it won’t be an easy crown to lift.

“We’re in an incredibly competitive league,” DeJoy said. “Obviously Champion will be strong. I think Garfield is a strong team, and Crestview is a strong team. We had two incredibly close games last year with Newton Falls and we want to be in that conversation with the better teams in the league, and I’m sure I’m forgetting someone. Liberty’s improving, and other schools are coming on and we just want to handle our league games the best we can.”

It’s not just the league games either. The Warriors take on multiple strong local squads with Salem, McDonald, Boardman and Poland. There’s no shortage of challenges as Brookfield prepares for the inevitable stacked districts at the Division III level.

“It’ll be a little more challenging for us this year in Division III. There’s a lot of terrific teams, but we’re still going to strive to get to that point and maybe beyond that,” DeJoy said.

The Warriors open their season up with a home contest against Maplewood at 11 a.m. Saturday.


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