The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

May 13, 2013

A Don McCormack column: Houser’s Heralds will play for title

There’s been an unquestioned rebirth taking place in Herald Country.

Buoyed physically, financially and, most important, emotionally, by the move into a much better facility for its high school, don’t look now, but St. John High School is slowly but surely getting back on its feet.

And for the second time since the name of the school was transformed back to the traditional “St. John” from SS. John and Paul, which had been in use for the past decade, or so, a Herald sports team is on the verge of a possible league championship.

Coach Stephanie Kubec led the St. John volleyball squad to a Lake Erie Conference title in the fall, finishing with a 19-4 record, in the process.

On Tuesday, coach Mike Houser’s Herald softball squad will invade Andrews-Osborne Academy in the LEC tournament championship game in Willoughby.

The softball program at St. John has struggled in recent seasons, but, like the entire district itself, has been rejuvenated this spring.

Houser’s Heroines, at last report, were 5-3 on the diamond this spring.

That may sound modest compared to the numbers put up by area powers such as Conneaut, Geneva and Pymatuning Valley in recent seasons, but consider:

  • The five wins this season represent the most by a St. John softball squad since Houser’s first team — in 2006 — finished 10-6.
  • In the six seasons that followed the 10-victory campaign in 2006, the Heralds won a total of six games.
  • St. John has not won a conference championship in softball since coach Don Jones led the Heralds to the second of back-to-back East Suburban Conference crowns in 2004. That same season, St. John, then still a member school in the Ohio High School Athletic Association, won a Division IV sectional championship.

Members of the 2013 Heralds when they tipped off the seasons were returning letterwinners seniors Brenna Powers (3B), Alex Ferrante (SS), Alicia Lewis (2B); junior Alivia Cimorelli (CF), Mackenzie Stenroos (RF); and sophomores Alicia Ngiraingas (P) and Jordan Scott (C).

Other key players senior Christy Yuen (utility); junior Cassy Hanna (utility); freshmen Madeline Martino (1B) and Reilly DeGeorge (P-LF).

Houser, a Kent State University graduate, has been with the school for a decade now, working in his seventh season as head coach.

He is assisted this spring by Jim Howell and Dennis Perry.

The Heralds lost four letterwinners to graduation from their 2012 squad, which finished with a 2-6 record.

Tuesday afternoon, Houser & Co. will go after a championship, which would give Ashtabula County three softball conference crowns this spring.

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at donmac@suite224.net.

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