Central softball preview

Central’s Alex Mantz speaks with coach Scott Mongold before stepping into the batters box against Clarke County last season. Mantz will be looking to lead a young Falcons’ squad this season.

WOODSTOCK – Central has a young softball team this season, but they still have plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

The Falcons have a combined five freshman and sophomores on the 12-player team.

“We’re young, but we like where the program is right now,” Central coach Scott Mongold said. “...This is year No. 2 with me, so the girls are starting to figure me out if they haven’t already. Everybody’s kind of fallen in line and putting in work. And we’ll see how they all shake out at the end.”

The Falcons will be led by senior catcher Alex Mantz, who has already signed a letter of intent to play at Shepherd University next year.

Mantz batted .507 (36-for-71) last year with 13 doubles, an area-best four triples and four home runs. She led the area with 31 RBIs and had 24 runs scored.

Mongold said that the only other starting position that’s been settled so far has been at pitcher where sophomore Alicia Ball will be in the pitching circle.

Last year Ball threw 47.1 innings with a 3.40 ERA and 130 strikeouts as the Falcons’ No. 2 pitcher. Kristina Stead, a 2018 Central graduate, had a 2.04 ERA and 130 strikeouts as the Falcons’ No. 1 pitcher last year.

Mongold said that Ball has improved in the offseason.

“She’s been in the weight room, and she was pretty religious with the weights this winter,” Mongold said. “And she looks bigger. She looks stronger. She looks a little bit more defined. And early indications is she’s picked up a little speed and got her a little bit more movement to some of her pitches.”

Mongold said that senior Kamryn Stottlemyer and freshman Bailey Spiggle will also pitch some this season.

Mongold said that Ball has also improved offensively in the offseason. Last year she hit .385 (25-for-65) with eight doubles, one triple and one homer.

Stottlemyer had 13 RBIs for the Falcons last season, and junior Chloee Burton led the area with 22 stolen bases and had 25 runs scored.

Mantz said she feels good about this year’s squad.

“I honestly feel like this year’s team is going to be a lot better than last year’s team,” Mantz said. “And I know that we’re going to have a drama-free team this year. And we all get along. So I think it’s going to work out well for us.”

Mantz, Stottlemyer and Megan Babcock are the team’s only seniors, and Mongold said he feels good about their leadership abilities.

Mantz said she likes what she’s seen from this year’s freshmen as well.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what our freshmen are going to do this year,” Mantz said. “And I think they’re going to produce what we expect of them to produce.”

Mongold said he likes the versatility his team has and he will likely be moving players around to play multiple positions.

Central starts its season on March 11 at Skyline.

Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at tkeeler@nvdaily.com