FHS softball: Rich and storied history


The Fairfield Lady Lions softball program has enjoyed a rich and storied history of excellence. Its resume includes 24 Southern Hills Athletic Conference titles (including seven consecutive), 35 sectional tournament championships, 11 district championships (five in the last eight years), one regional title and a state final four appearance in 1982.

In 2015, for the first time in school history the Fairfield Lady Lions were voted No. 1 in the final Division IV poll by the Ohio High School Fast Pitch Coaches Association and were ranked sixth in the Division III final poll in 2022.

The 2023 softball season was another winning season for the Lady Lions. They finished with a 12-11 record. Fairfield finished the season as the Southern Hills Athletic Conference champions with a 9-4 record, the Lady Lions seventh consecutive conference title. Fairfield graduated three seniors — Sydney Sanders, Faith Miller and Jaylie Duncan.

For the second consecutive year, Fairfield starts the season with a new head coach. Lesley Hattan, who led the Lady Lions in 2023, resigned in early February to take care of her family. Ellen Binegar was named the new head coach and becomes the second former Lady Lion softball player to be named head coach. Binegar graduated in 2004. She was the starting center fielder and batted at the top of lineup. She was an excellent bunter and prolific base stealer. Binegar brings a positive attitude and enthusiasm to the program. She looks to bring out the very best in every player.

She has been honing her softball coaching skills in the softball summer program and looks forward to this new coaching challenge. Longtime assistant head coach Tom Purtell enters his 30th year as the assistant head coach and begins his 57th year of coaching baseball and softball. He was inducted into the Times-Gazette Highland County Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017. The Fairfield coaching staff welcomes three new assistant coaches who have all worked in the summer program — Mindy Sanders, Chad Quickle and Lyndee Spargur. Sanders was a Fairfield jayvee coach in 2005 and 2006. Spargur is a former Fairfield softball player, graduating in 2019.

The coaching staff has high hopes for the 2024 Lady Lions. Seventeen players have worked extremely hard to get ready for the season. They practice to be better every day. They chase perfection in hopes of attaining excellence. The coaches and athletic director have put together the toughest schedule the Lady Lions have had to date. The schedule includes 26 varsity games and eight junior varsity games. Fairfield will field an experienced team with seven returning starting players. The team will seek its eighth consecutive SHAC title and to add to its tournament resume.

Fairfield will look to its five seniors for leadership. Caitlyn Quickle was an all-conference, first team all-district and honorable mention All-Ohio State selection in 2022, but was injured a year ago. She will pitch and play first base. Kaitlyn Chambliss, who was the top pitcher for the Lady Lions in 2023, will share pitching duties with Quickle. Chambliss is also the starting third baseman. Emmi Vance returns as a solid middle infielder and will see most of her time at second base. Sydney Hooper will patrol center field and Addison Bales will also play the outfield.

Fairfield’s two junior players will play key roles. Jobey Hattan will play shortstop and had a great season, leading the team in average (.527), runs scored (38), hits (39), doubles (10), triples (5), home runs (5) and slugging percentage (1.000). She was named to the All-SHAC team and second team All-Southeast District. Carly Sanders will be the starting first baseman and adds power to the middle of the batting order.

Fairfield’s three sophomores look to contribute to the Lady Lions success in 2023. Rilee Quickle returns from a successful rookie season and will be the starting catcher. She will also see time in the pitcher’s circle and in the infield. Kyla Thomas is working hard as a backup catcher and gets better every day. Kaitlyn Eidenier looks to improve her skills as an outfielder and will see time there.

Fairfield welcomes seven freshman who look to compete for an outfield position and add depth and speed to the roster: Alyssa Bales, Ally Maynard, Whitlee Morrow, Jorgia Smith, Ava White, Chloe Spangler and Daphne Butts.

The Lady Lions’ goals are simple. Win a SHAC title, a sectional championship and a Southeast District championship. We expect to be in a position to win every game.

Fairfield has won seven Southeast District championships in the last 11 years (2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019).

This season Fairfield will move from Division I of the SHAC to Division II. Winning an eighth consecutive SHAC Championship will definitely be a challenge for the Fairfield Lady Lions with several quality conference opponents competing for the top spot. In Division I of the SHAC, look for Eastern, Lynchburg-Clay and Peebles to compete for the top spot. In Division II, look for defending champion Manchester, Fayetteville and Whiteoak to compete with Fairfield to finish on top.

Submitted by Tom Purtell, Fairfield softball.

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