GNADENHUTTEN -- After posting a solid 15-9 record in her first year as head coach of the Indian Valley High softball team, Megan Foster will be entering her second year with some experience and she's looking to be even more successful this time around.
"We finished with a 15-9 record and we were second in the Principals Athletic Conference last season," noted Foster. "Overall, it was a good year but with this group, I think we will have an even better record and our goal is to take the PAC crown."
Despite having a successful regular season in 2016, the Lady Braves were knocked out in the first round of the Division II Sectional Tournament so they're looking to advance much farther in postseason play in 2017.
"Getting eliminated that early in the tournament is never what you hope for," said Foster, "but this year I really feel like we can win the district. We have a lot of players returning and I definitely think being successful at the district is possible."
Moving on through graduation was last year's senior standout Jamie Beamer.
"We are definitely going to miss Jamie," offered Foster. "She was a really big bat in our lineup and we also lost some leadership because she was a great team leader. She was a great hitter and was really versatile when it came to all the different positions she could play in the field.
"However, I think we have a nice core of returning letterwinners and we also have a couple of newcomers, so I am really excited to see what they can do," the Lady Braves' coach added.
Looking to lead the way for the Lady Braves this season will be senior, four-year letterwinner Taylor Williams, who will be playing shortstop, as well as classmate and three-year letterwinner Ashley Tschudy, who will be spending a lot of time in the pitching circle.
"Taylor and Ashley both had really good seasons for us last year," offered the IVHS mentor. "Taylor injured her wrist during the season and was able to play through it, so it will be nice to have her back and ready to go.
"Ashley did a great job pitching for us and it is always good to get your number one pitcher back."
Sharing time in the circle with Ashley Tschudy will be junior two-year letterwinner Kayla Tschudy.
Other returning letterwinners for the Lady Braves are seniors Chelsea Ohler (outfielder) and Allysa Parsons (catcher); juniors Payton Guspyt (third baseman) and Makayla Keathley (outfielder); sophomores Raegan Wires (second baseman), Jaide Cox (center fielder) and Maddie Dryden (catcher).
Top newcomers for Indian Valley are sophomore Morgan Spillman, who will see time in the outfield, and freshman Maleah Stansbery, who will contribute in the infield.
"I am really excited about Morgan and Maleah," said Foster. "They both work really hard and are going to be great players."
Despite not having any huge power hitters to stack in the middle of her lineup, Coach Foster believes this group will still be able to put some runs on the board.
"We don't have any huge hitters," explained the IV coach. "but all of these girls are really fast and even though we are small, I know that we can still hit for some power."
Foster also noted the significance of her squad's defensive play and how it can lead to success this year for the Lady Braves.
"We have some great pitching and great hitting," noted Foster. "As long as our defense backs up our pitching, I have no doubt that we will be successful and we will win a lot of games.
"Overall, we have high expectations for this season," the IVHS coach added. "We are going to continue working hard and hope it all pays off for us in the long run."