Even though Blythewood moved up to Class 4A status in 2009, the Bengals extended their region-championship winning streak. This time, Bucky Ware’s team emerged as the champions in Region 4-4A with a 9-1 conference record.
The Bengals, however, did not match the district playoff title it earned in its final season in 3A in 2008. Blythewood went 1-2 in its big-school postseason debut.
Despite the playoff disappointment, Blythewood finished with a fine 19-9 overall record and is 83-34 in four varsity seasons.
“We had a good season for our first year in 4A,” said Ware. “Four of our losses were to South Florence and Bookland-Cayce who played for state championships. We played really well at times, but also had a few struggles.”
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The good news is only two senior starters are departing – pitcher Megan March and Jennifer Jameson. Marsh went 12-4 with two saves and a 2.36 ERA in the circles, and had 109 strikeouts in 74 innings. Jameson batted .296 and player error-free ball in the outfield.
Otherwise, the rest of the Bengals starting cast is expected to return, and with plenty of motivation. At the top of the list are all-state selections Kelly Owens and Hillary Stewart. Owens hit .444 with 34 runs, 13 RBI and 13 steals, and was 6-1 with two saves and a 1.17 is pitching mode. Stewart had a great offensive season - .493, 23 runs, 35 hits, 31 RBIs, seven doubles, four triple and three home runs. Owens and Stewart were voted the co-players of the year in Region 4-4A.
Marsh, Paige Hartfield, Paige Owczarczak joined Owens and Stewart on the all-region team. Hartfield batted .338 with 21 runs, 15 RBIs and 18 steals, while Owczarczak hit .427 and scored 25 runs.
Catcher Bailey Newman (.277, 16 RBIs), first baseman Tiffany Harris (.303, 19 runs, 18 RBIs, two HR) and outfielders Ellen Cordova and Lori Owens (.270, 14 RBIs) are the other returning starters.
“We will have five senior starters next year, so we feel pretty good about our defense and our top hitters,” said Ware “We will need to develop some depth and also need to solidify our pitching rotation. Kelly Owens and Ellen Cordova will start off season as co-number ones, and we'll expect them both to pitch a lot. We'll also give our younger girls a chance. If we can develop some decent pitching, we'll be in the mix again for the region title. Overall, our region will be greatly improved though, so it will be tough.”