Softball Team Follows Up Successful Season

After the Softball team won Districts last season, some people have set higher expectations regarding this year’s team.

I wouldn’t say there is much pressure for us to live up to last season, because every team is different and has its own strengths as well as challenges. Last year we just had fun and focused on the basics, so this year I think that we will have the same priorities, said Junior first baseman, Nicki Mabry, when asked if there is any pressure to live up to last season’s success.

To be specific, the Softball team went all the way to Sectionals last year but lost in the first round to Notre Dame. Many people were surprised at the team’s success due to the impressive amount of new and inexperienced players.

“The team has won District Championships before, but the unique part of last season was not knowing whether or not we would have enough girls to field a team. The improvement from start to finish is what set last season apart as unique,” said Dan Petke, returning Head Coach of the team.

However, the team loses three key seniors heading into this year: pitcher Dani Mabry, third baseman Katelynn Graham, and center fielder Rachel Ardnt.

“Our team will definitely be affected by the loss of our Seniors because they were all influential players and great assets to the team. However, we have strong new and returning talent this year, so we will definitely be able to compete with the teams in our district,” said Sophomore Hope Linam.

Coach Petke comments on this year’s goals for the season: “Our goal this year is to take another step forward in strengthening the softball program. Over the last several years, we have worked to build the program and establish a good culture throughout. We have been fortunate to have talented and dedicated young ladies come through the program that care as much about representing Christ as they do about the outcome on the scoreboard.”

“I’d say that Reese Earlywine, Lauren Gates, Nicki Mabry, and (Freshman) Gabby Merrifield will be our strongest players because they have been playing for a long time. They always know how to help people like me who haven’t been playing for very long,” said Junior right fielder Marty Briner.

Lauren Gates, senior all-district catcher, talks about her personal goals for the season.

“My main goal is to stay consistent with my numbers throughout the season and help the team out with situational hitting.”

Gates continued regarding the new players on the team.

“We definitely got really lucky with Gabby Merrifield because of Dani graduating last year and not having any other real pitchers, so she will be a big help this season.”

Lastly, when asked if she will continue her softball career to the collegiate level, she said, “I am planning on continuing my softball career at the collegiate level, I am not sure where I will be playing yet but I will be making a decision soon.”

Fortunately, there are no major injuries on the team at the moment. Senior Carsyn Beachy has been dealing with a shoulder problem for a while, but luckily she says it shouldn’t hold her back much: “I am going to try and play through as much as I can. So far, my shoulder hasn’t bothered me too much, but once the games start I will most likely just need to rely on Biofreeze.”

The Wildcats kick off their season at Notre Dame on Friday afternoon.