COLLEGE HILL – The last time McAuley High School enjoyed a playoff softball run, coach Karen Wiesman said she remembers that team “always had fun.” That’s the message she gave her team heading into this postseason.
The Mohawks have been one of Cincinnati’s top teams. McAuley went 17-2 in the regular season, finished 10-0 in the Girls Greater Catholic League and won its first conference title since 2012. McAuley finished fourth in The Enquirer Division I area coaches’ final poll, behind Lebanon, Mason and Lakota West.
“I think at the beginning (of the season) we all knew we were gonna be good,” said Wiesman, who’s in her 13th season. “I think some people in our league didn’t realize we were gonna be that good. Outside the league, we’ve surprised some people and, at times, surprised ourselves in some games.”
McAuley does everything well. In its 10 GGCL games, the Mohawks allowed just 16 runs and scored 82.
“I feel like we’ve played as a team,” said Wiesman, adding her team hasn’t had to rely on any one player. In key spots, Wiesman’s been able to depend on her entire lineup and defense to make a play.
“We work well together, as a team, especially at the plate,” Wiesman said, “if you look at our stats the RBI are spread out.”
Junior outfielder Ava Lawson leads McAuley with a .463 average to go with 16 RBI and 11 stolen bases. Sophomore shortstop Britney Bonno (.419, 11 RBI), sophomore second baseman Kathryn Rost (.418, 13 RBI), senior third baseman Morgan Wells (.377, 18 RBI), junior pitcher Aubrey Brunst (.327, 13 RBI) and senior first baseman Mackenzie Anderson (.286, 16 RBI) have proven efficient driving in runs.
Wiesman and her team expected to be tough. The Mohawks benefit from three senior (Kathryn Rost, Wells, Anderson) and three junior leaders. Wiesman pointed out sophomores Meghan Gabriel, Annabel Thies (.352) and Rost have acclimated quickly at the varsity level.
For the second year in a row, Brunst has proven she can mow down a lineup on the hill. Brunt went 16-1 on the mound in the regular season with four shutouts, a 1.67 ERA and 97 strikeouts.
“I’ve never seen a pitcher quite like her as far as her demeanor,” Wiesman said. “If something does phase her, she doesn’t let it show. None of her teammates are gonna see if she’s upset (or) frustrated. She never shows her emotions on the mound at all.”
Brunst knew this season she would likely be the only pitcher so, Wiesman said, she focused on her conditioning and stamina, and it’s shown.
McAuley opened the postseason with a 6-2 win over Sycamore in a sectional semifinal.
“It’s just another game; that’s the outlook I want them to take,” said Wiesman, referring to her team’s playoff mindset. “We’ve been there and done that. It’s just another game.”