2007 high school softball preview capsules

Monday, August 20, 2007

Central Tigers

Coach: Amy Blattel

Last year's record: 15-13

Returning Starters: Amanda Nichols, jr., pitcher; Sirena Watkins, sr., pitcher; Jenna Matthews, sr., infielder; Casey Popp, sr., infielder; Mia Russell, sr., outfield.

Top Newcomers: Victoria Schabbing, soph., infield; Tori Ourth, soph., infield; Kayla Bredekant, soph., outfield; Jamie Hillier, jr., catcher; Taylre Scott, soph., catcher; Jennifer Willette, jr., infield; Cara Parkinson, jr., outfield; Lilli Robinson, jr., outfield.

Outlook: Nichols and Watkins return, after earning all-district honors last season. Central opens its season at home against Perryville. The Tigers return two pitchers, which will help provide some stability for the team. "Our goal every year is to improve," said Central coach Amy Blattel, who said her team can compete for a district championship.

Chaffee Red Devils

Coach: Shawn Powderly

Last year: Lost to Crystal City in the Class 2, District 2 semifinals.

Returning Players: Veronica Bennett, sr., third base; Madeline Kiefer, jr., pitcher/outfield; Shelby Ancell, jr., first base; Taylor, Kirchdoerser, soph., center field; Olivia Coomer, jr., shortstop.

Top newcomers: Hannah Bedwell, fr., catcher.

Outlook: The Red Devils lost all-conference outfielder Rachel Hendrix to graduation. "As a first-year coach you never know really what to expect, but we've been coming out every day and working real hard," Powderly said. "We are really light on numbers -- only one senior and only 10 players overall, which means we get a whole lot of practice time for everybody and everybody gets their fill. We expect to compete and to compete well and shoot for a district title this year. I know we have some tough competition, but I think we've got as good a chance as anybody."

Delta Bobcats

Coach: Laura Brown

Last year: 12-8 and a Class 1 district champion, losing to state runner-up Miller in the sectionals.

Returning starters: Sara Blattel, sr., center fielder; Amanda Drew, sr., catcher; Amanda Seabaugh, jr., outfielder; Jodi Menz, jr., first baseman; Kendra Burnett, so., pitcher; Katie Brucker, so., outfielder; Courtney Burton, so., 3b; Taylor Smith, so., shortstop.

Other returning players: Taylor Keys, so., second baseman; Ashley Glaus, so., first baseman.

Top newcomers: Samantha Bartles, fr., c; Rachel Bartles, fr., infielder.

Outlook: Delta has all but one starter back from last season, however first baseman Jodi Menz will be out until late September or early October with a shoulder injury she suffered during basketball season and reinjured during the summer. Brown is conscious of Naylor's presence in the district, and the Bobcats -- who play fall and spring ball -- split with rival and fall newcomer Oran during the spring season. "We'll just see what happens," Brown said. "We'll see what Naylor has and we'll see what the postseason brings."

Jackson Indians

Coach: Amanda Forester

Last year: 18-10-1 in Forester's first season, the Indians finished as the district runner-up to Seckman in Class 4.

Returning starters: Maggie Baugh, sr., center fielder; Hana Bolen, sr., shortstop; Alisha Craft, sr., outfielder/designated hitter; Brittany Feeney, sr., left fielder; Kelci Keith, sr., first baseman; Roxanna Miller, sr., third baseman; Amanda Pitts, sr., second baseman; Jessica Pitts, sr., catcher; Sheila Wade, sr., pitcher.

Other returning players: Erika Cook, jr., outfielder/pitcher; Stacy Roth, jr., utility; Clarissa Smith, jr., catcher/designated hitter; Jessica Tuschhoff, jr., pitcher.

Outlook: The Indians return several starters from a team that made a district run under first-year coach Forester. She likes the number of seniors on this year's team. "The district championship game was a big first step for these girls," Forester said. "A lot of girls got to experience the district championship game, and they're craving that again. They've put in a lot of hours."

Kelly Hawks

Coach: Rhonda Ratledge

Last year's record: 25-7

Returning Starters: Katee Moore, jr., shortstop; Sarah Ruff, sr., center field; Londyn Backfisch, soph., second base; Casey Kern, jr., first base; Ashley Slahardy, jr., left field.

Newcomers: Lana Whitworth, jr., outfield; Jessica Riley, jr., pitcher/first base; Heather Beggs, jr., pitcher; Hailey Glastetter, fr., third base; Kaitlin Glastetter, fr., second/utility; Brittany Brantley, jr., catcher; Kristen Powell, fr., first base.

Outlook: After a final-four finish, Kelly will return five starters. "Our pitching may not be as fast as it was last year, but it's definitely accurate and the girls are moving the ball," Ratledge said. "I have an extremely quick outfield which is going to help us, and I got some speed this year which is unusual because Kelly hasn't had much speed in the past couple years. Hopefully we can make use of that and make some smart plays base running."

Notre Dame Bulldogs

Coach: Jeff Graviett

Last year's record: 26-3

Returning starters: Allison Peters, sr., third base/outfield; Heather Menz, sr., shortstop/third base; Lauren Bond, sr., catcher; Erika Reinagel, jr., center field.

Top newcomers: Lauren Reinagel, soph., pitcher; Alexis Ralls, jr., first base/outfield; Danielle Dock, soph., pitcher; Brittney Schott, jr., outfield; Whitney Eftink, sr., first base/designated hitter.

Outlook: The Bulldogs enter the season with some questions on the mound after graduating their top two starters from last season."We won districts three years in a row and we're looking to make it four," Graviett said. "We've been to the final four two out of the last three years, but we've lost a tremendous group of seniors from last year. I had real high expectations with Paris being healthy, but now that she's out, we've got to find our identity offensively. We're running two sophomores out on the mound so we really don't know."

Oran Eagles

Coach: Sara Heisserer

Last year: The Eagles are playing in the fall for the first time, but are coming off a 17-1 spring season.

Returning starters: Callie Kielhofner, sr., pitcher; Jodi Urhahn, sr., shortstop; Alyson Seyer, sr., second baseman; Cassie Graviett, sr., first baseman; Katey Tilley, sr., outfielder; Ellen Sikes, sr., center fielder.

Top newcomers: Claire Seyer, so., outfielder/pitcher.

Outlook: Oran has several returning players from a spring team that lost just to Scott City, but Heisserer said, "It's just going to be a whole new level of competition." Oran, which opens Tuesday with St. Vincent, also has two games with fellow season-switcher Scott City this season and will play the Rams again in Notre Dame's tournament. The teams split two meetings in the spring. The Eagles are only playing nine games -- the MSHSAA minimum is seven -- including just one against a district opponent, while Heisserer and 10 of her players also are part of the volleyball team.

St. Vincent Indians

Coach: Dustin Wengert

Last year's record: 7-13

Returning Players: Kristen Wengert, sr., pitcher, first base; Jessica Welker, sr., shortstop/center field; Kelly Manche, sr., third base; Liz Rozier, sr., center field/shortstop; Janel Koenig, jr., outfield.

Top newcomers: Hannah Mudd, soph., second base/catcher; Anne Steele, jr., first base/outfield.

Outlook: "To be realistic and to stay in the right frame of mind, we'd like to finish 11-10 or somewhere in that range," coach Wengert said. "I think for our program that would be almost as good as winning a state championship. … We play in a very tough district. I think our first goal is to reach .500. Once we reach that we can reassess our goals and then go from there."

Scott City Rams

Coach: Sally O'Brien

Last year: Scott City was 16-4 last spring and will be playing its first fall season.

Returning starters: Emily Essner, sr., pitcher; Lauren Schaefer, sr., shortstop; Becki Holder, sr., outfielder; Kim Klipfel, sr., third base; Jennifer Aubuchon, sr., outfielder; Chelsi Bradley, sr., catcher; Macy Heisserer, so., second baseman; Lindsey Hadley, so., catcher/utility; Kaitlyn Twidwell, so., outfielder.

Other returning players: Rachel Reed, so., pitcher; Kelly Holder, so.; Holli Shemonia, so.

Top newcomers: Stacey Heisserer, fr., utility; Melanie Lacey, fr., pitcher/infielder.

Outlook: The Rams have plenty of returning players from a successful spring season, but they will certainly get a test in the Class 2 district tournament from perennial state power Kelly. "They're going to be a challenge for us," O'Brien said. To prepare, Scott City's first fall schedule includes 17 games and tournaments at Notre Dame and Class 4 district winner Seckman, which will have a field that includes plenty of large schools. "We're probably out of our element there," O'Brien said, "but we didn't just want to have a mediocre schedule."

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