Things to Know: Hawks softball steps forward again

Sean Cordy - Correspondent
Chloe Houge is safe after sliding into base against ACGC. PHOTO BY SEAN CORDY/THE PERRY CHIEF

Woodward-Granger lived to fight another day in the playoffs but an encounter with a state qualifier put the season to rest.

But the numbers don’t lie: This year was a step in the right direction for the program.

More peaks, fewer valleys

With a 6-14 record, the Hawks were just one win away from tying last year’s win total when the team finished with a 7-31 record. As a winning percentage, 2020’s was the best mark since 2017 when the team was 17-17-1.

While the Hawks still needed improvements to reach that mark — and the six seasons of at least 20 wins since 2010 — there was another mark the team improved on beyond the win-loss standings.

This season is the first time in the last decade in which the Hawks never suffered a shutout loss. Granted, the shortened season helped. The only other season that didn’t have a shutout win the first 20 games was in 2016.

All the right moves

That collective improvement came on the heels of improvements at virtually every level compared to 2019 when Jessica Wyant took over as head coach.

At the plate, the Hawks batted .281 and were on base 36 percent of the time. Both those rates increased from .230 and 31 percent respectively. In turn, that greater efficiency and patience led to a steady uptick of 4.2 runs compared to 3.8 runs per game in 2019,

With Rian Jamison leading the way with the fifth-most strikeouts (59) in the conference and starting 18 games, the team’s defense also improved to allow a 5.50 ERA. Even though the rate of runners on base stayed virtually the same, that is almost one run better than last year’s 6.37 ERA.

Bunch of bandits

Stealing was not a criminal offense in Woodward as the Hawks swiped 70 bases this season. With the group of talent at the team’s disposal, W-G really keyed in on base running last year to lead the conference with 94 swipes.

But remember that this season was cut in half. On a per game rate, the Hawks averaged 3.5 stolen bases in 2020. That once again led the conference and ranked sixth in Class 2A compared to fifteenth in 2019.

That largely came on the heels of the top third of the order as Emma Anderson (18 steals), Chloe Houge (16), and Katelyn Bandstra (12) all ranked in the top-five in the conference. Houge is the only one of the three returning next year as Bandstra graduated and Anderson is on the move to South Central Calhoun where her father now serves as superintendent after his 13 year career with Woodward-Granger.