CONNEAUT — Keith Sherman is making a unique shift from wrestling coach to softball coach ... and it is going well.
Sherman has coached wrestling for many years at Grand Valley and Conneaut, but is making his first venture into coaching high school girls softball this spring.
“They are starting to come together as a team they are supporting each other,” Sherman said. He said it has been challenging because the team lost the entire 2020 season due to COVID-19.
“I have one senior, one junior, 10 sophomores and one freshman,” Sherman said.
He said the coaches are teaching the sophomores things they would have learned last year, but were not able due to the season shutdown.
One advantage for Sherman is the Spartans have six coaches. He said the staff includes: Joe Chadwick who has been coaching since 2013; Annalee Hagstrom, who recently graduated from Conneaut, and Lexi Zappitelli, a former star player for the Spartans who just graduated from Youngstown State where she played softball.
Hagstrom spent a lot of time as the base runner during fielding drills that forced the players to pick the right base or connect with a cutoff player.
“I haven’t run this much since last year,” she said while catching her breath.
“Sherman added, “We have a lot of knowledge,”
Sherman said he organizes practices and works behind the scenes, but allows his staff to do coach their specific strengths.
“It’s amazing having her here,” he said of Zappitelli.
Sherman wrestled since he was 4, but also played baseball from the time he was 5 until he hit junior high school and started concentrating on wrestling.
He said he never visualized coaching girls softball, but started coaching his daughter, Ashlyn, in Little League and enjoyed the experience.
Sherman said he has been spending a lot of time reading about the sport.
He said he tries to coach the girls from a place of positivity, but in wrestling he does a bit more yelling.
“The girls react differently,” Sherman said.
He said the girls are working hard and several of the team members were able to play summer ball last summer, but many did not and are inexperienced.
Leaders for the Spartans this season include: senior Isabella Danforth, a pitcher-first baseman and outfielder; junior
Lauren Zimmerman, shortstop-centerfielder and sophomores Kaitlyn Bean, pitcher-first baseman; Sophia Householder, catcher-utility player and Delaney Pasanen, middle infielder-outfielder.