Even when you’re the two-time defending Division III state softball champions, challenges still remain. In the case of the Carroll Bloom-Carroll Lady Bulldogs, the
challenge is filling holes in the outfield and third base to compliment
a returning nucleus of five starters. Bloom-Carroll returns three-fourths of an infield Leary calls the best
in central Ohio and part of its battery from a season ago.
The action, however, starts in the pitching circle for the Lady Bulldogs in junior ace Gabby Gillilan.
Even when you’re the two-time defending Division III state softball champions, challenges still remain.
In the case of the Carroll Bloom-Carroll Lady Bulldogs, the challenge is filling holes in the outfield and third base to compliment a returning nucleus of five starters.
“We’re showing a lot of promise through our practices and scrimmages, but we still certainly have things to work on that are typical in the early season,” Bloom-Carroll coach Bruce Leary said. “ … The biggest challenge for our coaching staff is getting the new kids up to speed and getting them into the flow of things.”
The Lady Bulldogs face a tough schedule, including competition in the grueling Mid-State League Buckeye Division, as they try to once again reach the pinnacle of the state.
Bloom-Carroll returns three-fourths of an infield Leary calls the best in central Ohio and part of its battery from a season ago.
The action, however, starts in the pitching circle for the Lady Bulldogs in junior ace Gabby Gillilan, who tossed a five-hitter in an 11-0 thumping of Navarre Fairless last season in the state championship game.
“She has good control, good movement, but the thing about Gabby is her competitiveness. She simply likes to win,” Leary said.
Junior Tara Vincent completes the battery as she moves from designated player to catcher.
“She’s a solid catcher and a great hitter,” Leary said. “ … Gabby and Tara have been working well together for over a month in practice and scrimmages. They’re going to make a good pair.”
While the third base position remains open to competition, the rest of the infield alignment is set with junior Natalie Shirk at shortstop, senior second baseman Heather Armstrong and senior Erin Periano at first base.
Shirk is expected to leadoff for Bloom-Carroll and should be followed by Armstrong, Gillilan and Periano, who Leary referred to as the best first baseman in the Central District, hitting cleanup.
“Our strength is defense and pitching, but the top of our lineup hits the ball very well,” Leary said.
Bloom-Carroll graduated its entire outfield from a season ago and competition there remains open as well. A couple of seniors who will play a role are Lorraine Kilby and Courtney Seagraves, who Leary said he’ll depend on for their experience and hard work.
Highlights on the schedule for Bloom-Carroll include being invited to play in two tournaments in northeast Ohio – the Wendy’s Classic in Ashland on April 18 and 19 and the Champions Tournament in Loudonville the following weekend. The Lady Bulldogs are slated to face two-time defending Division IV state champion Dalton in Ashland. Bloom-Carroll also has a doubleheader with Westerville South and Central.
The season opener is scheduled for Monday at home against Watkins Memorial.
The Lady Bulldogs will also face a daunting MSL. Circleville has been to the Division II state Final Four each of the past two seasons. Canal Winchester is the defending league champion and Division I Teays Valley has a young nucleus that made the Division II Central District tournament a season ago.
“We have a tough league and non-league schedule, but I do that on purpose to prepare the girls,” Leary said.