Employees file photo / Brian Yauger
Mathews’ Olivia Matheny celebrates with teammates throughout a game final season Matheny is set to be one particular returner who will make an effect for Mathews.

1 of the gold requirements of Trumbull County softball more than the final decade and a half has been Mathews. Even though the group has a young core, the expectations are the exact same this year as they are almost each and every year.

Just after a short reprieve to commit time with family members, a familiar face is back to guide the Mustangs plan this season. Longtime coach Jim Nicula is returning to the Mathews dugout for his 12th season with the plan exactly where he’s amassed a record of 207-47 at the helm.

The Mustangs boast a young lineup, but there’s a lot of expertise nevertheless in the mix. Mathews returns a sophomore-heavy lineup that saw a considerable quantity of playing time final year. Headlined by sophomores Olivia Matheny, Ava Shugart, Kelsie Newsome and Ashia Pate, as effectively as lone senior Gianna Toto, the Mustangs are in fantastic shape heading into the year.

“There’s a lot of equal talent,” Nicula stated. There are youngsters competing for positions correct now and of course the returning starters from final year, they undoubtedly usually will get initially run in there and initially possibility to nab it but they’re obtaining to perform tough. The majority of them genuinely are operating tough to preserve positions and go on but yeah, we’re genuine. We’re genuinely excited.”

Each position is going to be handled with a committee strategy early in the year. Like Nicula stated, the starters from final season will get initially crack, but they will have other girls nipping at their heels all through the choice procedure.

With that stated, the loss of Emma Gates will undoubtedly be felt this season, but Mathews is not in a dire predicament in the circle. In reality, the Mustangs have no shortage of fresh arms to throw into the mix when required.

Without the need of going into complete rotation particulars, Nicula pointed out that he’s much more than confident in his crop of pitchers this year.

“The huge important is going to be pitching, but I’ll inform you what, we really have seven youngsters that pitch,” Nicula stated. “We have 4 sophomores and 3 freshmen, and we’re extremely satisfied with them. We’ve had a couple of scrimmage games so far indoors and we did extremely effectively. We’re playing Boardman this weekend which will be fascinating to see how they fare against a genuinely excellent group that year in and year out, is genuine strong. We’re excited. I do not assume our pitching is going to fall off.”

More than the years, pitching has been a strength for Mathews, as the Mustangs have had a number of all-state pitchers.

“We’ve been blessed to have all-state pitching year following year following year,” Nicula stated. “Going all the way back to Cheyenne Eggens from the early 2010s. Cheyenne was all-state. Then we had Nicole Watts, who was an all-state pitcher and then Addy (Jarvis) and then, we had a year or two exactly where we had Becca (Landis) and Emma (Gates) who have been young, but then they ended up each becoming all-state pitchers.”

That level of achievement in the circle and level of group achievement has produced playing for Mathews a complicated factor to do. There’s a higher bar you have to meet. With that stated, Nicula thinks he has the correct roster that can get back to exactly where they want to be. Creating the regionals has been good, but Nicula and the Mustangs are aiming a small bit greater than that.

“When they play softball at Mathews, you have a legacy to uphold, and the bar has been set extremely higher,” Nicula stated. “…We’re competing for a league championship and then district and beyond. Regardless of who is right here, we reload, and that is our purpose to get back to the state level. We’ve fallen quick in the regional level not too long ago, and we want to get more than that hump, and there’s no cause why we really feel that we cannot do that this year.

“The youngsters perform tough and remain the course and exhibit what we’re attempting to get them to do and you attitude and work you know me that is my greatest factor. You can move mountains when you have a fantastic attitude and you give fantastic work. From time to time that is way much more significant than the ability level you have.”

The road to get to Akron in June is not an effortless one particular, so the Mustangs ready themselves with a rigorous frequent season schedule. In addition to a hard league slate with perennial top rated teams Pymatuning Valley and Bristol and up-and-comers Chalker, Mathews will be taking on some of the state’s finest teams.

As a aspect of the Wendy’s Classic in April, the Mustangs are scheduled to face Danville, Marlington and Strasburg.

Mathews will open its season at house against Pymatuning Valley on March 27 at five p.m.

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