Softball team welcomes new coach, prepares for start of season

Joshua Abbott, the new head coach of the high school softball team, and new assistant coach Chelsea Raker have started preseason training for their first season with the team.

Abbott said he’s coached both baseball and softball and that he has been a coach for almost 10 years. He started coaching at Westerville Recreation Baseball. His first school coaching position was at Patriot Preparatory Academy, followed by New Albany Middle School before coming to Bexley.

Abbott said Raker played softball for Bowling Green State University, and she will be the hitting coach. He added the players have started hitting warmups.

“The first day we did it, the girls that were there picked it up pretty quickly,” he said. “They were saying ‘this is the best I’ve hit in my whole time playing softball,’ so I’m hoping that translates during the season.”

Abbott said that he’s trying to be a larger presence for the players and has been coming to the preseason workouts to support them.

“Normally during offseason, the varsity coaches don’t come around, and they wait until tryouts,” he explained. “I thought it was important for the girls to get to know me and see me and know what I expected of them.”

He said that he wants the players to work hard so that they can have a successful season.

“I’m hoping that my energy and my passion will help motivate the girls and bring out that energy from them,” Abbott said.

He said that the first day he came to the school, he noticed that there wasn’t a lot on the record walls about softball. Abbott explained that he approached Athletic Director Eli Goldberger about the lack of recognition, and Goldberger said that records haven’t been consistently reported for softball.

“I’ve been in the library going through yearbooks, pulling out records and any stats, anything I could find to see what the history of softball has been here,” Abbott said.

He said that last year’s record was 8-14, so he wants to win at least nine games but would love to finish with a winning record. He added that in 2014, the team was 20-6 and ranked the ninth team in the state of Ohio.

“I’d really like to bring it back to that glory,” he said.

Abbott said that the team lost three of their pitchers last season when the seniors graduated. He explained that there will be struggles because of the lack of team experience, but he’s excited to see how the freshmen grow over the next four years.

“I hope this season is successful, but the honest truth is it’s about the future of this program and not just this season,” he said. “It’s really about building up this program.”

Sophomore Izzy Carleton said that this is her second year playing softball for the high school team, and because of the new players and coaches, she said that it will be an educational season.

“There’s going to be a learning curve, but I think with some time, practice and obviously patience, we’re going to be able to get past,” Carleton said.

Sophomore Alina Lacki said that it can be difficult to make everybody feel welcome, but it is important to work on including everyone. She added that there have been times in the past when people would slack off if they didn’t feel like they had to give it their all.

“I hope that changes this year because I think it’ll make the team a lot better if everyone is dedicated to the season and everyone is interested in being there,” Lacki said.

Carleton said that she’s excited for the upcoming season and sees great things in the new coaching staff. She explained that they are always at every team workout, and the assistant coach has taken time with each player to focus on their swings, batting and building a relationship.

“I know the two of them, the head coach and the assistant,” she said. “Both have big ideas of trying to get the Bexley softball program some respect because in previous years, we haven’t been too hot when it comes to how we play. It’s not a ‘softball school,’ but I think they have the potential to turn the program around and I’m just ready to be along for the ride.”