Coaches never know what to expect when coaching an All-Star squad.
Talent is a given. But team chemistry is not.
Edison softball coach Dale Dawson has been around too long not to know that one of the most important relationships is that between the pitcher and the catcher.
“You may have a pitcher that pitches really well, but may throw a drop ball and you may have a catcher from another school that's never caught a drop ball,” Dawson said, he served as the head coach for the Northwest District team at the Ohio Underclass Fastpitch Tournament, which is put together by the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association.
“You're trying to match up the right pitcher with the right catcher and hoping that chemistry works,” Dawson added.
It proved to be a key component in Dawson's team, which featured eight area players — Bellevue's Morgan Andrews (outfielder) and McKenzie McMurray (outfielder); Clyde's Maddie Montgomery (outfielder); the Edison trifecta of Chelsea Imus (shortstop), Gabby Stoll (third baseman) and Lauren Wolf (outfielder); and Oak Harbor's Olivia Rollins (second baseman) and Emma Bergman (pitcher), 3-0 in the six-team tournament held Monday at Pickerington Central High School. Tuesday's final games were rained out.
Each school in the Northwest District was allowed to send three kids to tryout for the 20-player squad.
“The nature of the game is you're putting 20 kids together with no practice and you're trying to get them to gel,” Dawson said. “Emma (Bergman) from Oak Harbor did a fantastic job for us. Our pitching was key.”
Showcasing young talent was the main motive behind the tournament's origins. Dawson has served as the Northwest coach each of the last five years.
“There's college coaches all over the place,” Dawson said. “Last year, we had roughly 20 coaches or representatives. I bet there was easily close to that, if not more, this time around.”
The Northwest team opened with a 10-2 victory over the Southeast, before topping the Northeast, 5-4, and the East, 8-3.
“We pride ourselves on being a hotbed for softball,” Dawson said of the success. “Every year is kind of hit or miss, but four or five years ago, we went 5-0, and the last two years we were 2-3. I had a good feeling about our other two games, too.”
Getting the chance to coach his own players again, was only an added bonus.
“Chelsea (Imus) and Gabby (Stoll) really stepped up and took on leadership roles for this team,” Dawson of his two seniors-to-be. “They hit the ball really well, too.
“And my freshman, Lauren Wolf, fit right in and took this opportunity and made the best of it,” he added. “She did a fantastic job as well.”
Stoll and Andrews were the two hitters that jumped out to Dawson.
“Morgan made the team as an outfielder, instead of a pitcher,” he said. “She probably had four or five total hits.”
Teams had to bat the entire roster, one through 20, in order to guarantee the same amount of playing time.
“Basically, I threw the names in a hat, picked them out, and hoped I made the right decision,” Dawson said. “I did this year, I think. We were pretty well balanced up and down the lineup.”
Long-time Eastwood coach Joe Wyant and Bellevue veteran coach Walt Snyder served as Dawson's assistants.
“It's fun to pick their brain and see the things that they do,” Dawson said. “You got two pretty successful guys there.”