Eager to hit diamond, Twinsburg softball starts under new leadership

Steve Batko
Correspondent

Talk about eager to hit the softball diamond. Samantha Dostall can list the reasons why she is happy to make that leap this spring.

Dostall is the second-year Twinsburg head coach who is still waiting to make her debut for the Tigers.

Twinsburg Tigers

Last spring, Dostall and the Tigers were not able to get a chance to preview the new-look program as COVID-19 washed out the 2020 season.

Needless to say, Dostall and her coaching staff are excited for this season and ready to continue their teachings and like many area programs, the process is still a work in progress.

Coaches are still learning their personnel and talent pool due to not playing last spring.

“Our first scrimmage is this upcoming Saturday and I will know more after that,” said Dostall.

Dostall is assisted by Katie Hurst and Sally Petite.

Prior to coming to Twinsburg, Dostall was a two-year head coach at Oberlin Firelands, where she also starred as a player.

While mentoring at Firelands, Dostall was named the Lorain County Division II Coach of the Year. She played at Baldwin Wallace University as well.

At Firelands, Dostall led the program to a first-ever regional berth in 2013. She was a two-year team captain, plus a rare four-time All-Firelands Conference selection and a league MVP. Dostall was also a four-time All-Lorain County selection and made All-District twice.

Fundamentals and program numbers are a major focus throughout the system.

“We have a goal to improve the program overall, get our numbers up, and to compete with the power house teams of the conference,” said Dostall.

The Suburban League National Conference is loaded with strong depth and quality athletes. Coaches throughout the league will be eager to see which clubs are the most talented after last year’s lost season.

Blessed with a lot of youth, Twinsburg does have some experience returning.

Returning players include senior Leah Bova, senior Lauren Jablonski, senior Katy Okuma, junior Carli Genova, junior Gabi Bonnizzio, sophomore Sofia Middelberg, and sophomore Gianna Baynard.

Dostall likes the mix of the experience and the youth.

Bova, Jablonski, Genova, and Bonnizzio could be among the players who could have big seasons.

“While we didn’t have a season last year, all of these girls excelled in their summer programs and have looked great in practice,” declared the coach.

Bova is a catcher who has solid skills and will be attending Malone University and playing softball.

An honorable mention all-league choice in 2019, Bova can hit for a high average and is always a threat at the plate. She has also played in the outfield.

Jablonski has tremendous experience. She can play several positions and can help on defense and on the offensive end.

Dostall is expecting Jablonski to play shortstop for the Tigers. Jablonski can also serve as a catcher.

Another athlete who can contribute big in a few areas is Genova.

One of the team’s most experienced pitchers, Genova will help the Tigers on the mound as well as at shortstop.

Providing some power to the lineup, Bonnizzio also had good moments along with Bova on offense in 2019. Bonnizzio is the Tiger’s first baseman.

Okuma is a veteran athlete for Twinsburg who will contribute in the outfield.

Middelberg is one of the Tiger’s exciting young players. She is a southpaw pitcher who should see plenty of action. She also has played the outfield.

“Carli (Genova) and Sofia (Middelberg) will work to earn their time on the mound,” offered Dostall.

Another promising youngster is Baynard, who will play third base and could also see action in the Tiger’s outfield. She also has played some first base.

Top newcomers, according to Dostall, are junior Elliotte Schneeman and freshman Chelsea McKee.

“They are both strong in the outfield and hard workers and they are also well rounded in the box,” expressed Dostall.

Senior Bella Dobrski will also help the Tigers along with sophomores Gianna Gahagan and Kendall Matlock. Dobrski has solid experience in the Tiger program.

With more practice time and the pre-season, Twinsburg will learn its identity in the early season and look to work to improve.

“We have a lot of girls working really hard and fighting for spots,” said Dostall.

Scrimmages are set for March 20 at Parma Padua Franciscan, at Streetsboro March 24, and at home against Lakewood on March 25.

Scheduling changes may occur this spring as Twinsburg’s opening game is set for March 29 at home against Nordonia in a league contest at 4:30 p.m.

The Tigers host Westlake March 30 (5 p.m.), play a league clash at Cuyahoga Falls March 31 (4:30), and host Boardman April 2 (5).

Other highlights include a home doubleheader slated for April 10 against Revere (11 a.m. first pitch) and three games in the Akron Racers Tournament over the April 17-18 weekend.