First-year Oak Harbor softball coach in thick of conference race

OAK HARBOR If you looked up and down the statistics of the Oak Harbor Lady Rockets softball team, there are several things you won't find.
Mark Hazelwood
Aug 25, 2010

OAK HARBOR

If you looked up and down the statistics of the Oak Harbor Lady Rockets softball team, there are several things you won't find.

You won't find a single player with a batting average anywhere near .400 or anyone with double-digit RBI totals. There has been exactly one home run hit for Oak Harbor in 18 games, and ironically, it came off the bat of the team's ace pitcher.

What you will find is a team that is 15-3 overall and sitting atop the Sandusky Bay Conference standings with an 10-2 mark, all while being guided by a first-year head coach not far removed from college.

"In the wins we've had, we've simply found a way to get the hits when we needed them," Lady Rockets head coach Ashlee Donahoo said of the lack of gaudy stats. "Our hitting has been very streaky, but when we play solid defense, put the ball in play and play our game... Then we play very well and fortunately we've been on the right side of that for most of this season.

"We have also had some luck go our way. There have been some games where calls have gone our way and found some bloop hits when we needed them. The girls don't let down either, they fight all the way to the end and that's something we haven't had here in the past couple years."

Donahoo, a 2000 Firelands High School graduate who played softball at the University of Findlay, had been the varsity assistant at Oak Harbor the past three seasons before taking the reigns this spring.

"I just want to relay to the girls my love of the game," Donahoo said about taking the head coaching position. "I love the game of softball and want to teach the girls the right way to do it and spread my knowledge around with them. I want to see them enjoy something that I got to enjoy growing up as well."

The offensive stats may not be eye-popping for Oak Harbor, but the pitching stats for senior ace Liz Weber certainly are.

Through Thursday, Weber is 14-2 on the mound and has an ERA of 0.84 with 158 strikeouts compared to just 27 walks in 108 innings of work. She has thrown a five-inning no-hitter to go along with the full seven-inning no hitter against St. Mary Central Catholic and Port Clinton, respectively.

In a Division II sectional championship win over Perkins Thursday, Weber fired a two-hit shutout to advance the team to a district semifinal against Clyde Tuesday.

"It's her senior year and she wants to have a successful season and has done that so far," Donahoo said of Weber. "I can't say enough good things about her because she's definitely the driving force to our defense.

"Just recently we were joking as a team that the few groundballs the defense got was the most action we've had in the field all year because every game she is out there averaging 10 strikeouts per game when we only need 21 outs or sometimes less than that. She's just very effective on the mound and we'll definitely miss her next year, that's for sure."

Offensively, Dayna Setzler leads the team with a .383 batting average through Thursday while Courtney Atwater leads the team with just eight RBIs. Julia Konieczny is batting .340 with seven RBIs and had just one strikeout through the team's first 14 games. Weber hit the team's only home run in a win over Port Clinton Thursday.

Oak Harbor opened the season with a 3-0 loss to Milbury Lake and reeled off 11 straight wins until a 5-0 loss to Margaretta April 26.

However, Donahoo singled out a 1-0 win over Clyde in late April as a turning point for her team.

"It was a huge win for us on many levels," she said. "It was just a well played, great game to be associated with and watch, but Clyde is also one of the top teams in the conference that obviously made state last year so it was a great win.

"I think our 3-2 win over Margaretta the first time we played them was big, too. We got the clutch hit when we needed it and they had just come off a win over Perkins and they are also one of the top teams in the conference. I think those two wins showed us we could compete with those top tier teams and it gave us a boost of confidence."

Oak Harbor is at Perkins today with a chance to clinch a share of the SBC crown and will play Clyde Tuesday in the district tournament game. It will finish the regular season Friday, playing Clyde once again.

The biggest key to the Rockets success this season, Donahoo said, is the underclassmen making the smooth transition to the varsity level.

"We've got quite a few juniors on the team and they were undefeated the past two years at the junior varsity level," Donahoo said. "But it is a big jump from JV to varsity and for the most part, they've accepted their roles nicely and done that."