We lost five girls from last season, McClure, Gibson, Miller, Arrowsmith and Jones that accounted for almost half of the offense. But Coach Gibson thinks he has the players to fill the void left by the graduating class.
Seniors Taylor Amber, Jessica Tartaglia, Alexis Bankson and Karissa Labenz are leading the way. Brianne Burkhart (junior), is looking strong pitching this preseason and Ashley Shelton (junior) is in right field and Nichole Sells (junior)will be the designated hitter and backup catcher. Taylor Fry (sophomore) is in the outfield. Kasey Gibson (freshman) will be playing centerfield and brings an element of speed to the lineup. Savannah Labenz (freshman) will play shortstop and Chandler Blake (freshman) will see time at third base and outfield. Chelsey Penley (junior) will also see time on the varsity along with Kelary Crabill (freshman) and given the opportunity should help out at the varsity level.
“I think we have a real good coaching staff,” explained Coach Wayne Gibson. “We have Keith Heffelfinger who has been with the program for the past fifteen plus years and Daniel Burkhart who begins his second season and he brings a lot of enthusism to the club. Nancy Herron returns for another season bringing her knowledge as a former Lady Eagle and the addition of Todd Ramsey brings with him a lot of knowledge as he has coached travel ball for the past several years. He knows what we are teaching on offense and knows the defensive drills as well.”
This season the IHSAA is moving the pitcher’s mound to 43 feet, back three feet from the past seasons. It should give pitchers a little more room for movement on their pitches. It also gives the runners a little more time to get a jump on stealing bases. “We have been playing this in the last few seasons in travel ball so it’s not really new to us,” stated Coach Gibson. “I think it can be a positive change for our team with the speed we have.”
With 21 girls out for softball this season it brings back the JV schedule. The JV season was cancelled last season because of lack of numbers. “It hurt the younger players on the squad last season,” commented Coach Gibson. “By not having the JV team a lot of girls didn’t get the much needed playing time to improve their skills. That’s what we are all about, developing our younger talent to make our program stronger. Last season we worked with the middle school 14 and under teams and now we are holding some mini camps for the youth league on Sunday afternoons.”