The Dukes’ run was cut short in a Division III sectional final 1-0 loss last year to Oberlin, but coach Duane Sunagel and his Dukes are hoping for a different ending this time around.
Most key contributors from last season’s 14-9 club are returning, including junior Brooklinn Damiano, who hit over .400 and earned first team nods in the Patriot Athletic Conference, Lorain County, and Northeast Ohio district.
Also hitting above a .400 clip was Hope Diermyer, who returns as a senior after landing her own spot on the Lorain County first team as well as second team recognition in the district and PAC.
Other returning Dukes include 2017 All-County second team members Rianna Rosecrans, Allissa Boraggina, Lexi Wright, and Mak Moore.
Moore also made the All-PAC second team and earned an honorable mention in the district.
“We have some great leaders and enjoy having a player like (Damiano) leading off for us,” Sunagel said. “She’s got some power and Hope is a great hitter in the three hole.”
“Allissa Boraggina is a talented sophomore for us at shortstop,” he said. “She hit a home run for us at Elyria Catholic. Rianna Rosecrans and a freshman, Payton Regal, are going to be our top two pitchers this year. It’s a really good mix of experience and younger players.”
Sunagel talked about the new season Friday after his team split its opening two games, an 8-4 win versus Elyria Catholic and a 10-4 loss to Avon Lake.
“We made some errors in crucial situations against EC, leading to six unearned runs,” he said. “We’re going to have to play good defense, better defense than that, if we want to take another step forward. Our pitchers aren’t going to strike out a lot of hitters. We have to make the plays behind our pitchers. I tell the girls we only have so many opportunities each game to make winning plays.”
Catching perennial conference powerhouse Keystone is always an immediate goal for any team competing in the PAC, but the coach said his team’s goals don’t end with defeating their rival.
“Everyone is always trying to knock off Keystone in our Stars division,” said Sunagel. “That’s always a big goal, and beneath Keystone it’s always very competitive for who’s going to chase them between us, Oberlin, Buckeye, Black River, and so on.”
“We want to win our district tournament and get to regionals,” he said “We want to be competitive in every game we play and do the best we can with the opportunities that present themselves. We know we’re good enough to get down to Ashland and stand toe-to-toe with those teams.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.