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THE OHIO all-stars are, front row from left, Brooke Grant (Indian Creek), Kalista Friday (Monroe Central), Maria Clark (Martins Ferry), Olivia Congleton (Warren Local), Hunter Pollock (Martins Ferry), Grace Rinard Frontier), Savannah Anchrome (Edison), Ellie Bower (Conotton Valley), Julia Miller (New Philadelphia), Jenna Young (Harrison Central) and Ryleigh Goodman (Cambridge). Back row, from left, are Coach Jeremy Bleininger (Conotton Valley), Coach Doug Pfeffer (Caldwell), Adrianna Brown (Steubenville), Tristen Kovarik (Harrison Central), Sarah Touville (Harrison Central), Hannah Merritt (Union Local), Alayana Hancock (Warren Local), Carly Penner (Indian Creek), Coach John Dupke (New Philadelphia) and Jerry Magistro (Martins Ferry).

ELM GROVE – Runs should be at a premium Monday night when the OVAC Tom Bechtel All-Star Softball game is held on Ben’s Field at the JB Chambers I-470 Complex. The 9-inning contest will start at 6:30 and will consist of players who recently graduated.

Both Ohio and West Virginia have NCAA Division I signees inside the circle in New Philadelphia’s Julia Miller and Oak Glen’s Maddie McKay. Miller is headed to Ohio State University after a sterling career with the Quakers, while McKay will take her talents to the University of Toledo after leading the Golden Bears for the last four seasons.

“Ohio has an outstanding pitcher in Julia Miller,” the event’s namesake – Tom Bechtel – said Tuesday night following media night as the teams played three scrimmage innings. “For fans who love fastpitch softball, it will be worth the trip up here to watch her pitch.”

The other dugout also has a DI ace in Oak Glen’s Maddy McKay who is headed to the University “She is a pretty darn good pitcher as well,” Bechtel noted of McKay.

“The pitching on both sides seems to be pretty strong, but just as I say that, the teams will come out and hit the ball all over the field,” Bechtel added.

Bechtel said he didn’t want to start throwing names out because “There are a lot of all stars here.”

The Ohio roster includes, in addition to Miller, Brooke Grant and and Carly Penner (Indian Creek); Kalista Friday (Monroe Central); Maria Clark and Hunter Pollock (Martins Ferry); Olivia Congleton and Alayana Hancock (Warren Local); Grace Rinard (Frontier); Savannah Anchrome (Edison); Ellie Bower (Conotton Valley); Jenna Young, Sarah Touville and Tristen Kovarik (Harrison Central); Adrianna Brown (Steubenville); Ryleigh Goodman (Cambridge) and Hannah Merritt (Union Local).

The Buckeyes are coached by John Dupke (New Philadelphia-5A); Jerry Magistro (Martins Ferry-3A); Doug Pfeffer (Caldwell-2A); and Jeremy Bleininger (Conotton Valley-1A). All four won OVAC titles this past spring.

“I think that is neat, especially when three of them coached in last year’s game,” Bechtel advised. “They love to do it and enjoy doing it.”

The West Virginia roster consists of the aforementioned McKay, Sophie AdkinsShelby Koontz and Adrianna Skrzyneki (John Marshall); Haley Heitz and Grace Landini (Linsly); Cassidy Trimble and Katelyn Jones (Parkersburg South); Sydney Scott (Magnolia); Meysa Heitmann and Autumn Stemple (University); Mallory Rosnick and Madison Angus (Weir); Kenna Calahan and Makayla Zoellers (Oak Glen); Breonna Marietta (Morgantown); Madi Kline (Paden City) and Emilee Knorr (Brooke).

The Mountaineers coaches are Sherrie Garner (Oak Glen); Tim Burch (Parkersburg South); and Paul Recrosio (Linsly).

Garner led the Golden Bears to the OVAC Class 4A crown, while the other two West Virginia coaches had their teams in the OVAC playoffs.

“I’ve felt over the past few years that Ohio should have the advantage because they have 30 schools to pick from and West Virginia only has 20, but somehow the games seem to even out,” Bechtel said.

“It’s a nice way to end their seasons, let’s be honest,” he stressed.

When asked if West Virginia has an advantage because of the state tournament concluding just last week while the Ohio girls have been sitting around for a week or more, he didn’t think so.

“It only pertains to a couple of girls from John Marshall and Oak Glen, so I don’t think it will come into play.

“It’s a great way to end the OVAC season,” he said as the game is the last OVAC affiliated event of the school year.

According to the OVAC website, Ohio leads the all-time series, which dates back to 1982, 16-6. However, there are no results listed for 1994-95, 1997, and from 1999-2012. The 2020 game was postponed due to COVID-19.

The Buckeyes are currently on a six-game winning streak, including a 15-6 victory last spring.

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