The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


June 23, 2013

Heralds had a ball

Houser’s heroines part of SJ’s revitalized program

In a spring on renewed optimism and enthusiasm, the softball program at St. John High School took one of the biggest steps in terms of invigorating a program were made by coach Mike Houser’s softball squad.

The Heralds numbered by 12, but they were anything but a dirty dozen in terms of results as they put together a 9-3 season and won the Lake Effect Conference championship.

St. John’s winning percentage of .750 was the best posted by any St. John sports squad in the 2012-13 school year and was third-best in Ashtabula County this spring among softball squads, trailing only Premier Athletic Conference champion Geneva (.875) and All-American Conference champion Jefferson (.778).

  • The Heralds reached several other milestones this season:
  • The winning season was the first for the program since the 2006 squad went 10-5.
  • The .750 winning percentage was the best by a St. John softball squad since the 2004 team went 17-2 and posted a winning percentage of .895.
  • The conference championship marked the first by the Heralds in softball since the aforementioned 2004 team won the East Suburban Conference crown.

“Yes, it has been awhile since the program has had a winning season,” Houser said. “Yes, we look forward to the future and, yes, we had a lot of fun.”

“Fun” has not been an operative word much for the St. John softball squad recently. In fact, since the aforementioned 2006 team went 10-5, the Heralds won a total of six games in the next six seasons — combined.

But this spring, something clicked for the Heralds, though Houser admits things at the beginning of the season did not resemble the way they did at the end of the campaign.

“During open gyms, the players eager to get going,” he said. “When the preseason officially started, the numbers were low – (we had) only 10 players.”

The lack of numbers almost ended the St. John season before it even got off the ground.

“The St. John administration was concerned if we were able to have a team,” he said. “We had a core group of young ladies all eager to get going. Some were experienced and some not so.”

But numbers are numbers and not enough of them can throw a monkey wrench into any season at any high school.

“It still required the team to add two players to ensure we had a full roster in case of absences, injury, etc.,” Houser said.

With that in mind, the veteran of the softball wars went to extremes.

“We added two players who had never played softball before, Cassie Hannah and Christy Yuen,” Houser said. “Christy Yuen is a foreign-exchange student from Hong Kong.”

That lack of know-how did not trump the girls’ want-to, however.

“Both were eager to learn and we had about four weeks to teach them the basics,” Houser said. “And also constantly telling them, ‘I don’t know how much playing time you will get, but we have to get you ready – just in case.’”

Little did Houser know, he was a bit of a prophet.

“The ‘just in case’ came sooner than later,” he said. “Very early in the season, we found ourselves short players for one reason or another.

“Myself, and assistant coaches Jim Howell and Dennis Perry constantly reminded the girls that this season had the makings of something special. Season achievements were endless.

“And that they did.”

Houser said help bringing the extremely green blue-and-white-clad squad along came from within.

“Our senior leadership was outstanding,” he said. “Alex Ferrante and Brenna Powers, both four-year letterwinners, offered on- and off-the-field leadership.

“Being absent from the program for two years, senior Alicia Lewis provided much-needed experience that would prove very beneficial.”

Houser ran through the list of the other Herald heroines:

Text Only
  • Complete performance

    It has taken a while for the Grand Valley Mustangs to put it all together on the softball diamond this season. Wednesday afternoon, the Mustangs did just that, combining a superb pitching effort by Katie Paskey with a tight defense and opportune offense to smother the Maplewood Rockets, 8-1, in Northeastern Athletic Conference action.

    April 24, 2014

  • Pirates sail past Eagles

    The seniors on the Perry softball team wanted to talk with coach Frank Rico. They had some ideas for how their coach could help the Pirates. Rico was receptive of the players’ thoughts. It didn’t hurt that the Pirates were right on the mark in their assessments.

    April 24, 2014

  • Don A Don McCormack column: Years of wonder, indeed...

    The recent effort that appeared in this space last week about things yours truly did while growing up that prompted several replies, which were also published as a followup, brought one more into my inbox the other day.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thompson breaks own vaulting mark

    Geneva pole vaulter Ally Thompson is competing mostly with herself in the early going. She claimed a major victory in that category in toppling her own Ashtabula County record in the Eagles’ victories over Lakeside and Harvey at Spire on Wednesday.

    April 24, 2014

  • Scholastic Statistics:

    Grand Valley 8, Maplewood 1
    at Grand Valley

    April 24, 2014

  • Scholastic Schedule:


    Ledgemont at Grand Valley (4:30)
    Campbell at Edgewood (5)
    Lordstown at PV (4:30)
    Riverside at Perry (7:30)
    Champion at Jefferson (5)

    April 24, 2014

  • Tribe bests Royals

    The top of the Cleveland lineup has been starting to hit. If that continues, it will bode very well for the team.

    April 24, 2014

  • BB1 Walk on the wild side

    Going into the bottom of the third inning Tuesday, things were looking pretty good for the Madison Blue Streaks at Edgewood.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rick Peck A Rich Kelly column: Rick Peck... his legacy born at CLA

    We all leave a legacy of our persona as we pass from this world to whatever the future holds for us.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • BB2 Scholastic Statistics:

    Edgewood 14, Madison 3
    at Higgins Field, Edgewood

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

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