Softball Preview: Woodward-Granger looks for consistency despite shakeup
Woodward-Granger had made a habit of forgetting about previous losses and pulling out a nail-biting win in postseason play as the Hawks have won the regional quarterfinals each of the past two seasons. That’s where the road has stopped, with W-G packing up the following game.
Now the team enters its third season with head coach Jessica Oros (formerly Wyant) for a good level of consistency at the top. Meanwhile, the roster gets a bit of a shakeup as the Hawks search for more contributors to fill a big role.
The Hawks’ biggest X-factor from the past two seasons is missing as Emma Anderson moved to South Central Calhoun. Now W-G is looking to move a group of role players to the spotlight.
The definition of versatile, Anderson’s combined 38 total bases and 18 steals ranked second in the conference last seasons. She also ranked 13th with a .485 weight on-base average and 24th in isolated power. That’s the hole the Hawks look to replace. Even so, the Hawks still have pieces returning that in time, could fit that mold as a team rather than needing one replacement.
Ranked right behind Anderson’s total baserunning with 16 steals and 19 total bases, Chloe Houge is in line for a promotion. Audrey Simmons additionally comes in 16th overall with 18 bases and six steals. While their power last season was far from Anderson’s reach, Rian Jamison ranked 25th in isolated power. Beyond individuals, the Hawks’ philosophy and overall composition should be almost identical with a focus on speed.
Follow the Metrics
For every 10 total bases hit last season, the returning Hawks stole 3.2 bags. That’s more than double the league average. Madrid ranks second at a rate of 2.0 steals per 10 bases.
Taking advantage of opposing catchers truly kept the Hawks alive all last season as the Hawks ranked seventh with 3.6 runs created per game. They also ranked seventh in weighted on-base average at 32 percent. With the Hawks’ known speed, if that on-base rate climbs back to the 2019 rate of 3.9 per 10 bases this season, the runs (and wins) should follow.
While the Hawks made an aggressive effort on the base paths, their opponents tried to keep up the pace as Woodward allowed 38 steals last season while tagging only five. Only Madrid and West Central Valley allowed more steals. Stopping such a high percentage of theft starts with locking down opposing bats as W-G gave up over the most hits last season.
Streak to Know
With Oros entering her third season at the helm for the Hawks look to be the first team to lead the West Central Activities Conference in stolen bases three seasons in a row since Van Meter in 2017 and get out of single digit wins after finishes of 6-14, 7-31 and 6-28.
State of the Conference
After cruising to the Class 2A state title last season, Ogden loses 90 percent of its run production thanks to a large graduating class. Still, the Bulldogs are historically great as they haven’t had a losing season since 2008. The conference’s two other teams that held a winning record -- Van Meter and Earlham -- return virtually all of their production and add even more depth from underclassmen.