March 21, 2023 11:59 pm

Employees file photo / Brian Yauger
Mathews’ Olivia Matheny celebrates with teammates through a game final season Matheny is set to be 1 returner who will make an effect for Mathews.

One particular of the gold requirements of Trumbull County softball more than the final decade and a half has been Mathews. Though the group has a young core, the expectations are the similar this year as they are almost just about every year.

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

The Mustangs boast a young lineup, but there’s lots of encounter 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 excellent shape heading into the year.

“There’s a lot of equal talent,” Nicula mentioned. There are little ones competing for positions proper now and of course the returning starters from final year, they absolutely constantly will get 1st run in there and 1st possibility to nab it but they’re obtaining to operate tough. The majority of them seriously are operating tough to hold positions and go on but yeah, we’re actual. We’re seriously excited.”

Each and every position is going to be handled with a committee method early in the year. Like Nicula mentioned, the starters from final season will get 1st crack, but they will have other girls nipping at their heels all through the choice approach.

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

With no going into complete rotation information, Nicula described that he’s extra than confident in his crop of pitchers this year.

“The massive essential is going to be pitching, but I’ll inform you what, we basically have seven little ones that pitch,” Nicula mentioned. “We have 4 sophomores and 3 freshmen, and we’re incredibly pleased with them. We’ve had a couple of scrimmage games so far indoors and we did incredibly effectively. We’re playing Boardman this weekend which will be fascinating to see how they fare against a seriously fantastic group that year in and year out, is actual 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 many all-state pitchers.

“We’ve been blessed to have all-state pitching year right after year right after year,” Nicula mentioned. “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 had 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 point to do. There’s a higher bar you have to meet. With that mentioned, Nicula thinks he has the proper roster that can get back to exactly where they want to be. Producing the regionals has been good, but Nicula and the Mustangs are aiming a small bit larger than that.

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

“The little ones operate tough and keep the course and exhibit what we’re attempting to get them to do and you attitude and work you know me that is my largest point. You can move mountains when you have a excellent attitude and you give excellent work. From time to time that is way extra vital than the ability level you have.”

The road to get to Akron in June is not an uncomplicated 1, so the Mustangs ready themselves with a rigorous typical season schedule. In addition to a hard league slate with perennial leading teams Pymatuning Valley and Bristol and up-and-comers Chalker, Mathews will be taking on some of the state’s most effective teams.

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

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

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