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

A single 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 very 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 encounter nonetheless 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 wonderful shape heading into the year.

“There’s a lot of equal talent,” Nicula stated. There are children competing for positions ideal now and of course the returning starters from final year, they certainly generally will get very first run in there and very first possibility to nab it but they’re getting to perform difficult. The majority of them definitely are functioning difficult to retain positions and go on but yeah, we’re true. We’re definitely excited.”

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

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

Devoid of going into complete rotation particulars, Nicula pointed out that he’s additional than confident in his crop of pitchers this year.

“The huge crucial is going to be pitching, but I’ll inform you what, we really have seven children that pitch,” Nicula stated. “We have 4 sophomores and 3 freshmen, and we’re quite delighted with them. We’ve had a couple of scrimmage games so far indoors and we did quite effectively. We’re playing Boardman this weekend which will be thrilling to see how they fare against a definitely excellent group that year in and year out, is true 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 soon after year soon after 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 good results in the circle and level of group good results has produced playing for Mathews a tricky factor to do. There’s a higher bar you have to meet. With that stated, Nicula thinks he has the ideal roster that can get back to exactly where they want to be. Generating 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 quite 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 aim to get back to the state level. We’ve fallen brief in the regional level not too long ago, and we want to get more than that hump, and there’s no purpose why we really feel that we cannot do that this year.

“The children perform difficult 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 wonderful attitude and you give wonderful work. In some cases that is way additional significant than the talent level you have.”

The road to get to Akron in June is not an quick 1, so the Mustangs ready themselves with a rigorous typical 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 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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