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Lady Hawks look to retool after 13-11 season last year

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

(Photo)
Kelly's Morgan LeDure (with ball) readies to throw to first to try and force out teammate Samantha Ratledge during a recent Kelly Lady Hawks practice. The Lady Hawks will begin their season Aug. 22 at Chaffee. David Jenkins, Staff
BENTON -- Though their steak of nine straight district titles came to an end last season, the Kelly Lady Hawks are an example of a team that always seems to be able to retool rather than rebuild

Despite having to rely on a slew of young players after making a run to the Class 2 Show Me Showdown the year prior, the Lady Hawks still turned in a solid 13-11 campaign.

Their season came to an end, however, at the hands of St. Pius X in the semifinals of the Class 2, District 2 tournament.

Though they might still be a younger squad, the Lady Hawks return to the field this fall a much more experienced group than the one that headed into the 2011 season.

Only two positions this year will feature new faces as last year's center fielder and leadoff hitter Emily Grojean is head to play at Three River College this fall while fellow outfielder Melissa Menz was also lost to graduation.

Three of last year's starters will return for their senior year, including first baseman Jessica Worth, third baseman Sydney Vinyard and right fielder Darbe Backfisch.

After handling most of the pitching duties last season, sophomore Kristi Brucker will once again anchor Kelly's rotation while classmates Stephanie Worth and Samantha Ratledge will be back at catcher and second base respectively.

Other returners included junior Jade Rampley, who has been the Lady hawks starting shortstop since her freshman year and sophomore outfielder Morgan LeDure.

Some of the newcomers hoping to contribute this season include senior Michaela Gean and freshmen Alexis Doxk, McKynlee Neumeyer, Kama Collier, Abbey Sutton and Bethany Knight.

"I'm excited about the new freshman coming in and looking forward to watching all the girls perform together as a team," head coach Rhonda Ratledge said.

Kelly starts its season nest Wednesday at 4:30 when it hits the road to play the Chaffee Lady Devils.

Lady Hawks Schedule

8/22 @Chaffee, 4:30

8/24 @East Carter, 4 p.m.

8/28 Delta, 4 p.m.

8/30-9/1 @Notre Dame Softballfest, TBD

9/4 Scott City, 4 p.m.

9/5 Sikeston, 4 p.m.

9/8 @Seckman Jaguar Tournament, TBD

9/11 Twin Rivers, 4 p.m.

9/12 @Cape Central, 4 p.m.

9/13 Portageville, 4:30 p.m.

9/15 @Jackson Softballfest, TBD

9/18 @Poplar Bluff, 4 p.m.

9/19 @Perryville, 4 p.m.

9/24 @Notre Dame, 4:30 p.m.

9/25 Poplar Bluff, 4 p.m.

9/26 @Oran, 4 p.m.

10/1 Jackson, 4 p.m.

Chaffee Lady Devils

CHAFFEE -- Coming off a season where they finished just below .500 at 11-13, the Chaffee Lady Devils hope a roster blended with talented youth and seasoned veterans can keep their program on the upswing.

Though they fell in the opening round of the Class 1, District 1 tournament last season, the Lady Devils were able to notch three more wins than the year prior and only lose two seniors.

While those two graduates, Sierra Miller and Taylor Fodge, were both All-Conference Chaffee won't be without experience in the field.

Among those expected to help lead this year will be senior shortstop Adrienne Eichhorn, who garnered All-Conference, All-District and second team All-Region honors last year. She'll be one of four returning seniors on this year's squad as Kaitlyn Miller, Stevie Schrum and Hailey Enderle also come back for one last run at a district title.

Second baseman Mackenzie Chapman is the team's lone returning junior while three sophomores return, including Kaitlin McFerron, who made the All-Conference and All-District teams last year. She's expected to spend some time at first base while helping anchor the pitching staff.

Other returning members of last year's team include sophomore's Jesse Evans and Cierra Crites.

They'll be joined by newcomers Regina Seyer and freshmen Julia Sutterfield, Carleigh Brunett and Hannah Seyer.

"Our goal is to out work everyone here," head coach Shawn Powderly said. "We want to improve every day and be playing our best softball when the playoffs roll around."

Chaffee will kick off its season when it host the Kelly Lady Hawks next Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

Lady Devils Schedule

8/22 Kelly, 4:30 p.m.

8/23 Scott City, 4:30 p.m.

8/28 @Puxico, 4 p.m.

8/30-9/1 @Notre Dame Softballfest, TBD

9/5 @Delta, 4 p.m.

9/6 Oran, 4:30 p.m.

9/8 Lady Devil Classic, TBD

9/11 @Saxony Lutheran, 4 p.m.

9/12 Naylor, 5 p.m.

9/13 @Clearwater

9/15 @Perryville Tournament, TBD

9/18 @Neelyville, 4 p.m.

9/19 @St. Vincent, 4 p.m.

9/20 @Van Buren, 4 p.m.

9/25 Twin Rivers, 4:30 p.m.

9/27 Greenville, 3:30 p.m.

10/2 East Prairie, 4:30 p.m.

Scott City Lady Rams

SCOTT CITY -- After falling one win shy of the Class 2, District 2 title last year, the Scott City Lady Rams will return in 2012 an experienced team in need of some flexibility from its veterans.

While only three players will be missing from last year's lineup when the Lady Rams take the field this fall, all three happen to be starting infielders. Two of those three, third baseman Brittany Kiefer and second baseman Lindsay Kern, were lost to graduation while shortstop Lindsie Robert will miss the season with a torn ACL.

Without proven backups to transition into those slots, Scott City head coach Amy Pobst expects to see several of last year's starters spending some time at new positions.

"We didn't lose a large number of players from last year's team, but we lost most of our infield," Pobst said. "So some of the returning players will be playing different positions. We will have a young infield in that they are inexperienced at this level at most positions."

One of Lady Rams strong points as they try to improve on last year's 13-11 record is a core group that's made up of upperclassmen who saw plenty of playing time last year.

That group starts with the reigning Standard Democrat Softball Player of the Year, Alexis Spriggs. Spriggs, a senior, served as Scott City's co-ace alongside junior Becky Burger last season, posting a 6-6 record and 3.35 earned-run-average.

At the plate Spriggs hit for a .347 batting average and .518 on base percentage.

Joining Spriggs and Burger as returning starters will be seniors Lindsey Rendleman, Alicia Kern and Julie Holder. Junior's Shelby Rhymer, who played outfield last year and senior Tana Tetley also return while Michaela Kiefer, a sophomore, is the only underclassman coming back.

Newcomers include Bella Bowers, who will get a shot at shortstop, Valerie Bahr and Olivia Stevens.

"Our goal is to return to the district championship game again this year but have better results there," Pobst said. "Although we have very low numbers this year, the girls are working hard in practice so far and if they continue to work at this level I believe they will make up for their inexperience and have success."

Scott City will start their season on Wednesday, Aug. 23 at 4:30 p.m. when they hit the road to play the Chaffee Lady Devils.

Lady Rams Schedule

8/23 @Chaffee, 4:30 p.m.

8/29 @St. Vincent, 4 p.m.

8/30-9/1 @Notre Dame Softballfest, TBD

9/4 @Kelly, 4 p.m.

9/5 @Fredericktown, 4:30 p.m.

9/6 Poplar Bluff, 4 p.m.

9/8 @Lady Devil Classic, TBD

9/10 @St. Pius X, 4:30 p.m.

9/12 Oran, 4:30 p.m.

9/15 @Jackson Tournament, TBD

9/17 @Cape Central, 4 p.m.

9/18 East Prairie, 4:30 p.m.

9/19 @Jackson, 4:30 p.m.

9/20 Delta, 4 p.m.

9/24 Sikeston, 4:30 p.m.

9/25 @Saxony Lutheran, 4:30 p.m.

10/2 Perryville, 4:30 p.m.

East Prairie Lady Eagles

EAST PRAIRIE -- You'd be hard pressed to find a team in Southeast Missouri that spends more time on the diamond than the East Prairie Lady Eagles.

Taking part in both high school softball seasons, the Lady Eagles experienced a frustrating 0-13 fall campaign before turning things around and posting a 12-10 record in the spring.

With the hard work put last year and the return of eight starters, East Prairie head coach Steve Stokes expects to see a much improved fall season this time around.

"We only have two four year seniors, so we are fairly young, but a little more experienced than we have in the past," Stokes said. "Our top three pitchers are two sophomores and one junior, but are improved. Our infield is fairly intact only having to replace our first baseman.

"We will have some versatility as we will probably move players around especially in the early part of the season to try to find our best line-up."

Expect to see Lauren Magee and Caitlin Harwell handle most of the pitching duties this season while Makayla Hutson will lead off the batting order and play everywhere on the infield but first base.

Abbey Henderson will spend time at third base and in the outfielder with Taylor Johnston seeing time in the outfield and at second base. Other returning players include Katie Byassee, Alexa Nordwald, Bailey Turnbo and Kali Rice.

Outfielder's Abby Linhart, Laura Urrego, Arissa Coffer and Samantha Sherrion round out the list of those coming back with experience.

The incoming freshman will Jocee Dunn, Montana Watson, Brianna Merryman, Alyzia Wohlferd and Brittany Russell.

"We seem to have better speed than we have had in the past," Stokes said. "We are stressing fundamentals and stressing making routine plays hopefully eliminating the big innings defensively."

East Prairie will start its season on Thursday, Aug. 23 at 4 p.m. when they host Oran.

Lady Eagles Schedule

8/23 Oran, 4 p.m.

8/27 Delta, 4 p.m.

8/28 East Carter County, 4 p.m.

8/30 @Greenville, 4 p.m.

9/4 Portageville, 4 p.m.

9/7-9/8 @Lady Devil Classic, TBD

9/10 Saxony Lutheran, 4 p.m.

9/12 Sikeston, 4 p.m.

9/13 @Puxico, 4 p.m.

9/18 @Scott City, 4:30 p.m.

9/20 Clearwater, 4 p.m.

9/24 @Twin Rivers, 4:30 p.m.

9/27 Portageville, 4 p.m.

10/1 @St. Vincent, 4 p.m.

10/2 @Chaffee, 4:30 p.m.