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Champion cruising as season winds down

Staff photo / Brian Yauger. Champion’s Mady Jones slides into home during the team’s 10-2 victory over Garfield on Thursday.

Entering the season, Champion softball coach Cheryl Weaver was apprehensive.

The Golden Flashes graduated a strong senior class that included both primary pitchers in Emma Gumont and Cassidy Shaffer, as well as catcher Brooke Whitt.

So, coming into the 2022 season, Champion had quite a few question marks.

Despite a few major setbacks the Golden Flashes close out the month of April with an 11-1 record and are gearing up for an all too familiar postseason run.

One of those setbacks was losing starting pitcher Abigail Meadors to injury. At the time of her injury, Meadors had pitched 57 innings. With their top arm on the mend with a lower body injury, the Flashes turned to the pairing of Tayler Fuller and Morgan Davis, the latter of whom is beginning to impress.

Davis threw three strikeouts and walked zero batters in her most recent appearance in the circle, a 10-2 victory over league rival Garfield.

Losing your top pitcher is obviously a big hit to the team’s morale, but the team is rallying around Meadors and trying to succeed for her.

“When we lost Abigail, it got the girls down a little bit, but they said they wanted to do it for her,” Weaver said. “We got two girls that have thrown the ball in the past and they were willing to try to keep this going. I’m very proud of Morgan. She did a great job. … I’m just proud of the girls that they kept it up. They stayed up and their goal was to do it for Abigail.”

The lone blemish on the schedule came before Meadors’ injury, a 3-2 loss to league rival Brookfield. Since that April 22 defeat, Champion has won four straight, including a pair of 16-1 wins over Campbell in a doubleheader. The second of which was Davis’ debut in the circle.

“I feel like from the beginning of the year to now I think we’ve really come together as a team,” Davis said. and we had to support each other through moments and losing players and I think we’ve really come together as a group and bonded.”

Mady Jones leads the team at the plate, batting a .486 with 15 RBIs. She’s also the team’s leading big hitter as well, with three home runs.

Freshman Addison Warzala has not only impressed at the plate, batting .378, with eight RBIs and a home run, she’s also been commanding behind the plate as the team’s catcher.

With Whitt having big shoes to fill, Warzala would have justifiably been nervous, but that didn’t happen. The young freshman has already stepped up as a leader and is confident beyond her years.

“I came in as a freshman and there were big roles to fill here and I didn’t really feel intimidated when I walked into the first practice,” she said. “All the girls were wanting to get to know me, wanted to be friends, we’ve just really all come together.

“I think we do really work hard at practice and once we get on the field, we all just start to flow.”

With the tournament fast approaching, the new-look Flashes have an extra spike of motivation. That being said, they can’t rely on motivation alone, there’s still work to be done improving their game.

“It’s always the same thing, trying to play errorless ball and hitting the ball well and hitting the ball hard,” Weaver said. “Communication, we need to have a little communication. I think that’s something we got to work on, but I’m just very proud of them. If they come out like this, we’ll be okay.”

The Flashes look to keep things going on Tuesday with a road contest against Crestview. Start time is set for 6 p.m.

byauger@tribtoday.com

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