Mary Beth Odom cannot say enough about the people she had around growing up when it comes to softball, including Dixie Heights principal Roddy Stainforth and current head coach Sarah Osborne.
The 26-year-old had been the head coach for the Beechwood Tigers the past two years after serving as an assistant. Both seasons ended in the 9th Region quarterfinals at Ryle. But the Ryle job came open in June and the administration just named the 2015 Dixie Heights graduate its new head coach.
“Ryle has always been a strong and competitive program,” Odom said. “Playing against them at Dixie as another competitive program, your values align with that and I’m excited to coach more girls that want to pursue softball in the future in their college careers and also have the same takeaway from the game that I do.”
Ryle is the only team in the current 9th Region to win a fastpitch softball state championship in 2006. The Raiders won the 9th Region seven times out of eight years between 2005-2012. They last won the region in 2018.
“A goal that I believe is achievable through hard work is staying on top of their district. Their district is a very tough district with Cooper, Boone and Conner,” Odom said. “They’re very tough programs coached by good coaches. Continuing nice team chemistry will make an impact in the regional tournament. Of course the ultimate goal is state. I think going in there and not only honing in on the drills and the physical skill set, but also being a team and wanting success for your neighbor and teammate is going to be key to achieve a lot of goals in the season, district, region and state.”
Odom played softball at Thomas More University after graduating from Dixie Heights. She took over as Beechwood head coach in 2022 after serving as an assistant.
The Tigers finished 29-33 during her two years, losing to Notre Dame in the 35th District Tournament championship games both seasons. But Beechwood won the first All “A” 9th Region championship in school history and first-ever All “A” State Tournament game with a 19-3 win over Highlands Latin from the 7th Region in pool play in Owensboro this past spring.
“She led by example. She led through hard work and dedication and she really changed the culture, gave the girls, team and the program a lot of accountability,” said Ryan Booth, Beechwood Director of Athletics. “That translated over to a lot of success on the field. She did a fantastic job.”
Osborne was an assistant to Stainforth at Dixie Heights during Odom’s time there. Odom said Osborne’s passion helped drive her to become a coach.
“I texted her thanking her because when you’re in high school and you’re developing, it’s hard to have a coach that’s tough on you and keep a level head with that,” Odom said. “But she’s done such a great job. She has been ever since she coached me. Sometimes it seems like a coach is always on your case. But you have a good coach like (Osborne) that takes the time and will sit you down and say, ‘I’m tough on you. But I know you can achieve way more.’ I’m not even her player and she’s still tough on me and encouraging me so it’s nice to have.”
Odom takes over for Jarret Goddard, who stepped down after two years and had been an assistant at Ryle prior to that. Goddard’s daughter Maddie will be a key returning player next spring along with the likes of catcher Laney Schuster and Zoe Coop. Maddie Goddard started 21 games this past spring, posting a 14-9 record in 139.1 innings, 1.51 earned-run average to go with 126 strikeouts, 119 hits, 30 earned runs and just 21 walks.
“They’re going to have a coach that they’re relatable to,” Odom said. “That’s one key thing with my success at Beechwood is that they saw a female coach who has been in their footsteps in high school that started off at JV level then moved their way up to varsity as well as competed at the collegiate level. Gaining their trust is something that I strive for and I believe that I can achieve that by being relatable to these young student-athletes.”
When asked about the decision, Jarret Goddard said, “It’s a great opportunity for me to watch Maddie’s senior season.”
Ryle Director of Athletics Mike Woolf said he left on good terms.
“Jarret did a good job while he was there,” Woolf said. “We’re looking forward to Mary Beth coming on. She was quite impressive with what she’s done at Beechwood in such a short time. We’re sure she’s going to be able to take over and be a great fit for our program.”
Ryle finished 36-27 the past two seasons, winning consecutive 33rd District championships and making it to the 9th Region semifinals, losing to Dixie Heights both times. Several errors in the first inning gave the Colonels an early lead the Raiders could not come back from.
Ryle had its struggles on defense this year, especially early on. The Raiders allowed 64 unearned runs this year. But it improved throughout the season. Ryle did have a team ERA of 2.13 and scored 199 runs for an average of nearly seven per game.
“The Ryle softball program is in a really good spot,” Jarret Goddard said. “I think that they have big opportunities to continue to grow. I’m still going to be part of the program in some regard because Maddie is going to be a senior this year. But the relationships have been great. The parents, families, kids have all been awesome. It’s great to see where the program is and where it’s going to continue to go under new leadership.”
Ryle isn’t the only program in the 33rd that will have a new coach. Boone County also has an opening after Andy Petridis stepped down after 14 seasons. Behind Karys Black, the Rebels won the 33rd District and 9th Region championship in 2021.
“Coach Petridis won a bunch of games at Boone County, and his team’s run to the regional championship in 2021 was one of my favorite memories as athletic director,” said Lance Melching, Boone County Director of Athletics. “However, what I admire most is something most people don’t see, and that is the way Coach Petridis and his coaching staff have developed players. They have always met kids wherever they are and worked with them through the offseason. They never relied on only having travel ball kids to fill the varsity squad.”
Petridis took over the program in 2010. In his 14 years, the Rebels finished 228-157 and made the 9th Region Tournament six times with four appearances in the region semifinals.
“There are a lot of great relationships over the years. Our Dad raised us on, ‘Nobody does great things by themselves and they always have people to help them.’ I was definitely fortunate to have a lot of great people on my coaching staff that cared about the kids, all the things that they did and their futures,” Petridis said. “I couldn’t have replaced them ever. Kid-wise, I think it’s most coaches. We obviously don’t do it for the money. We do it because we enjoy the crew we’re around. Out there, I had a ton of kids over the years that I very much cared about. Some you are still close. Some you still talk to even years later. It’s different for each of them. I think you just hope in your time that you made enough memories with them that they’ll look on it when it’s time for their kids to start playing sports that you were a positive push in the right direction. I hope the girls I’ve had when they have daughters push them into softball because they’ve had good experiences with us at Boone.”
Petridis said it was just time when asked about the reason for the decision. He also emphasized he has nothing negative to say about Boone County.
“Fourteen years is a long time for any coach at one place,” Petridis said. “At some point, the message starts to get dull where it’s said so many times, the newer, younger kids don’t react to it the same. I think it was just time for them to get a fresh face, go in a different direction and get a new voice of the program.”
Four schools in the area are looking for softball head coaches. The other two are 37th District neighbors Calvary Christian and Scott after Orlando Donaldson stepped down from the Cougars post and Lisa Brewer retired as the Eagles leader.