(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
BENTON -- A staple in the Kelly Lady Hawks softball program will not be in the mix once the Lady Hawks take the field in the 2010 season.
At least not for a while.
Head coach Rhonda Ratledge is and will be on maternity leave towards the beginning of the upcoming season. Assistant coach Melanie Heuring has taking over the coaching duties until Ratledge's return.
"We'll definitely miss her," Heuring said about Ratledge. "She has done a lot for our program since she's been here. I don't think she'll be out very long. She's going to try and come back.
"It's going to be hard for her to sit out I think."
Kelly, coming off a 20-10 record last season and was one win away from a trip to the state playoffs, will also be without their usually high number of players as well. With currently 11 players on the roster, a jayvee team is out of the question.
"We're down to 11 this year, which is different from years past," Heuring said. "We're used to having 20-plus kids so that means no jayvee team, which is different for us."
Those players that are out are no stranger to the Kelly softball way of doing things.
Kristen Powell, Kristen Vetter as well as Kaitlyn and Hailey Glastetter are the four seniors on the Lady Hawks' squad this year.
"They've played varsity since their freshman year," Heuring said about her seniors, "They've had a lot of experience on the infield and they've learned a lot from the girls in the past. They'll be good leaders and will be ready to help our younger one's this fall."
Powell will be taking over the role of Kelly's No. 1 starter after the departure of Danielle Dock, who will be playing at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Ark. this year.
"She'll definitely be our number one," Heuring said about Powell. "She's thrown a lot of games this summer so I know she's prepared and ready to fill that role. She's one of our seniors so I know she's excited about this season."
Kaitlin Glastetter will be the No. 2 pitcher behind Powell giving the Lady Hawks an important second starter.
"She threw with Powell this summer so, we'll definitely have two good pitchers to go to when we need to," said Heuring.
Emily Grojean, who is the only junior, will be Kelly's center fielder with a possibility of being the No. 2 catcher. Jade Rampley, a freshman, will be the new shortstop for the Lady Hawks, taking over Londyn Backfisch's spot from the previous four years.
Darby Backfisch, Londyn's younger sister, will be playing outfield. Marissa Menz, Makayla Gean, Sydney Vinyard and Jessica Worth are a few others Heuring will be looking for to contribute.
"This group of girls played with each other this summer," said Heuring. "They know what they have, what's going on and they know what to do. I think we'll be alright."
SCOTT CITY -- Coming into the 2010 season, the Scott City Lady Rams will be hoping their youth will help propel them to unseen heights since the switch to fall softball.
"The big key for us being successful this year is going to be our younger classmen stepping up," Scott City head coach Amy Pobst said. "With two seniors and only two juniors that have experience, the rest of the team are freshman and sophomores.
"Right now, we're trying to figure out what all we have and whose going to step up and take positions."
Scott City finished last season with an 8-13 record and fell to the Kelly Lady Hawks in the semifinals of the Class 2, District 2 tournament. The Lady Rams lost five seniors to graduation; Lindsey Hadley, Macey Heisserer, Rachel Reed, Holli Shemonia and Kelly Holder. Scott City returns five starters from last year, which four were starters every game.
Melanie Lacey and Stacey Heisserer are the only two seniors for the Lady Rams, while Jenna Cummins, Lindsay Kern and Alexis Spriggs are the other three returning starters.
Spriggs is currently being considered as the No. 1 pitcher. Spriggs was called upon last year as a freshman to pitch in certain situations.
"As of right now, our No. 1 is probably going to be Alexis Spriggs," Pobst said. "She was a freshman last year and was normally our No. 3 pitcher. She's really worked hard all summer and improved her game.
"I'd say there's a good chance she can step in and be our No. 1."
Scott City also has freshman, Becky Burger who will have the chance to pitch quite a few innings as well as Lacey and Alicia Kerns.
With 13 total players as of now on their roster, Pobst believes that even though they are young, most of her freshman and sophomores have the potential to step in and contribute right off the bat.
"We have four freshman coming in who can all contribute," said Pobst. "We have a junior as well that can help us out as well. Plus we had a pretty decent freshman class last year, so there's a lot of newcomer's coming in."
CHAFFEE -- With six returning starters on the roster for the upcoming 2010 season, the Chaffee Lady Devils softball team may be on the way up.
"(We're) bringing back a good nucleus of young players who gained a lot of experience last year," Chaffee head coach Shawn Powderly said. "(We're) looking to post a much improved record. (Our) team goals are to compete in conference and make a run come district time."
A slow start to last year's campaign led to a 6-19 record and a district quarterfinal loss to Neelyville. Chaffee returns six starters including All Scott-Miss Conference players Hannah Bedwell, Montana Estes and Adrienne Eichhorn. Bedwell was also named to the All-District team.
Maria Smith, Sierra Miller and Hailey Enderle are among the returning starters as well.
Powderly will also be looking for newcomers Kaitlyn Miller and Taylor Fodge to contribute this season.
ORAN -- With a host of seniors and experience returning to the field, the Oran Lady Eagles have a chance to improve on their 12-8 record last fall.
All-District seniors Amanda Williams, Halle Woodfin and Abbey Anderson along with senior Shelbie Seyer and junior Courtney Scheeter will lead a crop of nine freshman entering their first year of Oran softball.
"This is the most freshman we have ever had on our softball team," Oran head coach Sara Heisserer said. "Five of those girls will be playing volleyball for me this fall."
Williams will continue to be Oran's catcher in her final year as Woodfin and Anderson will stay at first base and short stop. Seyer will play centerfield while Scheeter will take over the pitching duties as well as play second base.
Junior outfielders Lauren Nenninger and Courtney Graviett will also be looked upon to contribute as returning starters as well.
The largest group of incoming freshman will be Molly McConnell, Laci Glastetter, Jamie Kern, Allison Phillips, Chrissy Sauceda, Taylor Nenninger, Addie Kielhofner, Brooke Schlitt and Morgan Todt.