BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — It’s been 20 years since the Anthony Wayne softball team won the state title, but Carolyn Vogtsberger remembers it well.
As she stood near the pitcher’s mound on May 15, 2022 – Alumni Day – Vogtsberger was joined by players from that 2003 winning team, including Tracy (Lehman) Green, Jessica (Pilcher) Ball, Jenn (Woods) Newman, Samantha (Engel) LaPointe and her daughter, Kim Amstutz, who was a freshman at the time. Coach Phil Kurfis and even bus driver Mike Yeager were also there.
Other members of the team not able to make Alumni Day include: Hope Hernacki, Heather Hillary, Leslie Everhart, Michelle Pennington, Melanie Heinlein, Chelsea George, Kristen Schnapp, Chrissy Gothke, Kara Hensley and Sarah Meyer, as well as assistant coaches Mark Hamann and Gary Goodwin.
Winning the state championship was a three-year process, Vogtsberger said, starting in 2001 when her team lost in the semifinals. In 2002, the team lost in the district finals.
“When 2003 started, no one picked us for anything,” she said, noting that Woods was moved to pitcher and freshmen were on the starting lineup.
“To say it was a rocky season with hard growing pains is an understatement. but we learned from our mistakes and everyone grew together instead of apart. It was this cohesion that suddenly made everything click,” Vogtsberger said. “We truly met up with our destiny. You could truly feel it. We had the belief, grit, determination and skill to beat anyone.”
By the time the Generals rolled into Ashland, every player and coach had no doubt that the championship was theirs. No one scored on the girls throughout the tournament, and by the time they beat Gahanna-Lincoln 2-0, the team had amassed 31 points.
“It’s amazing to have seven straight shutouts in the tournament and Jenn will be the first to tell you that it took everybody,” Vogtsberger told The Mirror at the time. “We didn’t dwell on the seven shutouts, but our defense and pitching were our bread and butter. The hitting was a bonus. It comes and goes, but we know we can hit the ball.”
The seven seniors – Leslie Everhart, Chrissy Gothke, Heather Hillary, Tracy Lehman, Sarah Meyer, Michelle Pennington and Jenn Woods – missed graduation for the tournament, so they donned caps and gowns and received their diplomas at home plate.
With the 2023 Generals softball team watching, Vogtsberger encouraged the girls to work hard and believe that another state championship is possible. She thanked coach Ron Myers for his dedication over the years, as well as the families, friends and alumni who have supported the team.
“This is really about Carolyn,” said Myers, who served as her assistant coach before taking over in 2013.
In all, Vogtsberger coached from 1991 to 2006 and 2010-2013. This is also her last few weeks of teaching high school math for Anthony Wayne, as she retires after 36 years with the district.