April 20, 2014

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New Black River softball coach confident in herself and her staff

SULLIVAN TWP. — Lauren Toth is excited to have her first softball head coaching job of any kind.

That she’s taking over as the varsity coach at Black River less than five years after graduating from high school does not intimidate the 23-year-old in the slightest.

“I’m not overwhelmed at all,” said Toth, a Medina resident and four-time team MVP prior to graduating from Walsh Jesuit in 2008. “It’s a big step, but you’re as good as what you put into it. I’ve surrounded myself with a very good coaching staff.”

Toth, a substitute teacher in the Black River system, succeeds Merle Simmons, whose supplemental contract was not renewed after he led the Pirates to a 41-14 record over two seasons.

Included was a 22-10 record last year, when Black River reached the Massillon Division III Regional championship. It was the Pirates’ best postseason performance in school history.

Toth, a pitcher and first baseman at Walsh, went to Baldwin Wallace straight out of high school and played fall softball at the Division III college, but transferred to the University of Akron after a semester and stopped playing.

Her father, Larry Toth, a longtime coach in a number of sports, and junior varsity coach Tom Gehring, a fixture at the school for decades, will be her assistants.

“I’ve always loved softball and the competitiveness of it,” said Toth, who previously gave pitching lessons at Pinnacle Sports in Granger Township. “I love to coach. You’re basically teaching the game.

“I’ll let the girls play, but when something needs to be said, I’ll guide them and show them ways they can improve. I’m not going to jump on them, but the girls will know when it’s time to get serious and when it’s time to have fun.”

The Pirates will be built around senior pitcher Dagmar Smith, who went 16-3 last year and has a scholarship to continue her career at D-II Ursuline College. In the 12 games Smith missed last season due to a back injury — she’s virtually 100 percent now — the Pirates went 5-7.

“Dagmar’s our captain and one of our leaders,” Toth said. “All the girls look to her for guidance.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.