Softball: Sidney trying to redefine culture in rebuilding year


SIDNEY — The first 24 hours of regular-season play were a bit rough for Sidney. But in what is a rebuilding year for the program, coach Kerri Adkins is encouraging the squad to look at positives.

The Yellow Jackets lost 23-8 in five innings to Piqua in a Miami Valley League game on Wednesday evening, just hours after it lost 16-1 to Fairborn in another MVL game at Aschenbach Field. Sidney lost 17-0 to the Skyhawks in its first game of the season on Tuesday in Fairborn.

“We have been trying to redefine our team culture,” Adkins said. “We’re trying to focus on our positives. Surround the games with that, and in practice go through what we need to do and what we need to work on.”

Sidney finished 15-14 two years ago and won the MVL Valley Division title. The squad lost six players to graduation and finished 5-15 last year. Four starters from that squad have graduated, including Alli Milanese, who was a four-year starter and pitched last season.

Among the returnees this season is junior shortstop Hailey Richardson, who was an honorable mention all-MVL selection last year. She had a .478 on-base percentage and .375 batting average a year ago and has six career home runs to her credit.

The squad has a young roster with nine underclassmen. But there are a few other returning letterwinners, including senior Lainey Luginbill, who has taken over as the team’s starting pitcher. Also back are senior second baseman Alayna Vanhorn and sophomores Nylah and Tylee Hale.

Sophomore center fielder Kelis McNeal is also back; she hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the Indians.

“She has a lot of power,” Adkins said. “I’m excited to see all the things she can do for us this year, both at the plate and in the outfield.”

The Yellow Jackets didn’t have a hit in Tuesday’s loss at Fairborn but had three hits against the Skyhawks Wednesday afternoon. They fared better later in the day against Piqua, as they collected 13 hits.

“We definitely can hit if we keep our mentality in the box with us,” Adkins said. “When we show up intimidated, it kind of changes how we do. These girls are capable of doing what they just did (against Piqua).”

VanHorn, the team’s leadoff hitter, was 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs. Richardson and sophomore outfielder Kimora Johnson were each 2 for 3. Richardson hit one double and batted in two runs. Every player in the lineup had at least one hit.

Luginbill started in the circle. She pitched four innings in two stints and gave up 12 earned runs on 17 hits and seven walks with five strikeouts.

The Indians took control with eight runs in the first inning. Sidney scored in each of the first four innings, including four runs in the fourth to pull within 17-8. But Piqua scored six in the top of the fifth, then retired the Yellow Jackets in order to earn a run-rule win.

Sidney is scheduled to travel to Covington (2-0) on Thursday; the squad is scheduled to travel to Piqua on Monday.

Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.

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