Chapin entered the 2012 softball season facing the prospect of a rebuilding campaign after taking a major graduation hit.
In fact, the Eagles have simply reloaded.
Jason Jolley’s youthful team, which features four sophomores and three freshmen in the starting lineup, wrapped up its fifth consecutive region championship on Monday with an 11-1 win over Dreher behind the no-hit pitching of new ace Abby Malcolm. The sixth-ranked Eagles stand at 17-2 overall, 9-0 in Region 4-3A matters.
“There were some people that thought we were going to fall on our faces this season, but these girls never missed a beat,” said Jolley. “Yes, we’re young but we’re a scrappy team with talent. I’m extremely proud of what they’ve accomplished.”
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Chapin’s questionable outlook was based primarily on the loss of pitching mainstay Taylor Morgan. In truth, Jolley had four returning starters in senior outfielder Alyssa Blakenship, senior second baseman Ashley Bonnett, freshman shortstop Brooke Burns and freshman Lindsay Harris.
Blakenship is batting .448 with 29 runs, 13 RBI and eight steals. Bonnett is batting .397 with 26 runs and 19 RBI. Burns, a three-year starter, is batting .478 with 28 runs, 30 RBI and two home runs. Harris, another three-year starter who has helped fill a void at catcher this season, is hitting .516 with 20 runs, 21 RBI, eight double and two homers.
Newcomers Olivia Chapman (.404, 14 runs, 12 RBI) and Mimi Foster (.340, 10 runs, 12 RBI) have made nice contributions, as well.
But the key to the Eagles continued run of success has been the pitching Malcom, who is 14-1 with a 1.50 ERA. Malcom went 6-1 with a 0.50 ERA behind Taylor a year ago and has filled the No. 1 role admirably.
“Abby doesn’t have the strikeout rate that Taylor did, but she is averaging one strikeout per inning,” said Jolley. “The big thing is she only has nine walks. Hitters can get their bats on the ball, but rarely do they square it up good against her.”
Chapin closes out the regular season with a non-region game Wednesday against Airport and one last region game on Friday at Camden.
The Eagles rise in prominence began with the arrival of Jolley as the head coach in 2008. In four-plus seasons under new management, Chapin is 112-23 overall, and 51-2 in region games.
Jolley’s 100th win came on March 15 – a 14-1 region rout of Lower Richland.