Softball squads eager to begin competition

Herald File Photos
Southridge's Macie Marley sneaks past Jasper's Rachel Gress to score a run in least year's meeting between the Wildcats and Raiders. Gress and Marley are back to lead their respective programs as seniors as both squads have high expectations on what to expect this season.

By HENDRIX MAGLEY
hmagley@dcherald.com

With the temperatures finally climbing above 50 degrees, it seems appropriate that it’s finally time to begin the outdoor sports.

Area softball teams have began preparing these past couple of weeks for their opening games with a few local squads beginning their respective seasons tonight. Here’s a look at what to expect from our area’s softball teams.

Jasper Wildcats

Last season: Finished with a 19-10 record and won their first regional championship title since 2008. Their sectional victory was Jasper’s seventh in school history.

Opening game: Tonight at Linton, 5:30 p.m.

Returning players:

Madison Allen, Sr.

Rachel Gress, Sr.

Halli Leinenbach, Sr.

Taylor Mitchell, Sr.

Madeline Springer, Sr.

Grace Colvin, Jr.

Emily Heim, Jr.

Meredith Hilgefort, Jr.

Lexie Jerger, Jr.

Madison Matheis, Jr.

Nicole Mehringer, Jr.

Karley Thomas, Jr

Kendyl Ruhe, Soph.

Hannah Schwenk, Soph.

Mia Werner, Soph.

Key newcomers:

Mayson VanMeter, Jr.

Haley Kippenbrock, Soph.

Elizabeth Ackerman, Fr.

Halle Knies, Fr.

Kennedy Matheis, Fr.

Megan Matheis, Fr.

Kaitlynn Mendel, Fr.

Kylie Morton, Fr.

Anna Schmitt, Fr.

Aspen Sermersheim, Fr.

Adrienne Simmers, Fr.

Andi VanMeter, Fr.

Notable: After an extremely successful 2018 campaign, the Jasper Wildcats have high hopes for this upcoming season.

The Cats graduated just two players from last year’s squad that made it all the way to semistate. While Hailey Hurst and Grace Werner were both huge contributors to the team’s success last season, head coach Matt Pryor is extremely excited about the pieces returning to the Jasper softball field and the experience they bring.

“I think these girls feel like they can compete with any team — definitely in Class 3A and even with some of the teams on our schedule in Class 4A,” said Pryor about the Cats, who were ranked No. 6 in the ICGSA preseason poll. “They have that confidence with the run they had last year and I think they can get the job done no matter who we’re playing.”

Jasper returns the team’s second leading hitter from a year ago in Grace Colvin who batted .419 while leading the team with 21 RBIs on 31 hits. The Cats also return Hannah Schwenk who led Jasper with six doubles and Lexie Jerger who led the way with six triples and the team’s only home run — not to mention her team-high 18 stolen bases.

The Cats also return Mia Werner who dominated opponents on the mound last year. She won 10 games, had an ERA of 2.33 and threw 83 strikeouts compared to just 17 walks.

Quotable: “I think she’ll do a fantastic job of keeping us in ballgames against some tough offensive powerhouses. She’s just a workhorse — I don’t even know how many days a week she takes off but I know it’s not many.”

Southridge Raiders

Last season: Finished with a 10-15 record; won their opening sectional game against Eastern Greene but fell to Mitchell in the semifinal.

Opening game: Tonight vs. Springs Valley, 5 p.m.

Returning players:

Amanda Brewer, Sr. (outfield)

Megan Buechler, Sr. (outfield)

Gina Flores, Sr. (infield)

Macie Marley, Sr. (infield)

Peyton Nalley, Sr. (infield/outfield)

Rachel Trent, Sr. (catcher/infield)

Angel Garrett, Jr. (outfield)

Kolby Jones, Jr. (pitcher/outfield)

Briley King, Soph. (pitcher/outfield)

Jaime Matthews, Soph. (outfield)

Kennedy Nalley, Soph. (infield)

Maddie Songer, Soph. (catcher/outfield)

Key newcomers:

Lydia Genet, Sr. (pitcher/infield)

Karly Barnett, Fr. (infield)

Kylie Evans, Fr. (infield)

Loren Fleck, Fr. (outfield)

Mikah Goeppner, Fr. (catcher/infield)

Emma Marley, Fr. (infield)

Myah Montgomery, Fr. (pitcher/infield)

Lydia Ramsey, Fr. (infield)

Maddy Songer, Fr. (pitcher/infield)

Notable: After leading the Southridge football team to success the past few seasons, Scott Buening is ready to take on a new challenge in leading the Raider softball program.

While softball is nothing new for Buening as he was a head coach at East Central for eight years and Evansville Harrison for one year, he’s excited to once again find himself back on the basepaths.

“I’ve had a lot of girls join strength training (class) the past four or five years so I’ve gotten to know a lot of them pretty well after working with them,” Buening said. “Softball was always something I enjoyed in regards to the competition and training and I was glad that the opportunity came up.”

In addition to Buening, the Raiders welcomed several new members to the coaching staff including college softball alums Emily Ferguson and Mariah Obemeier (Evansville) and Allie Michel (Brescia).

Southridge will be led by a strong senior group including Megan Buechler, Macie Marley, Lydia Genet, Gina Flores, Amanda Brewer, Peyton Nalley and Rachel Trent.

Quotable: “I appreciate the seniors work ethic and attitude — they’ve been very coachable. We’re looking forward to getting them a season to be proud of you and make this a year where a tradition of Southridge Raider softball began.”

Forest Park's Macie Zink waited to take off while Heritage Hills' Lauren Caswell attempted to keep her on base during last year's battle between the Patriots and Rangers. Zink and Caswell both have had a tremendous impact on their respective programs.

Forest Park Rangers

Last season: Finished with a 12-13-1 record, lost to South Spencer in the sectional semifinal.

Opening game: Thursday at Springs Valley, 5 p.m.

Returning players:

Lydia Hauser, Sr. (infield)

Jorydn Wiseman, Sr. (outfield)

Kylie Giesler, Jr. (infield)

Megan Gogel, Jr. (outfield)

Kennedy Sermersheim, Jr. (catcher/infield)

Sami Stout, Jr. (outfield)

Amber Theising, Jr. (infield/outfield)

Ashtyn Welp, Jr. (infield)

Claire Wendholt, Jr. (outfield)

Allyson Werner, Jr. (pitcher)

Macie Zink, Jr. (catcher/infield)

Key newcomers:

Madi Begle, Fr. (infield)

Anna Striegel, Fr. (outfield)

Madison Wathen, Fr. (outfield/catcher)

Ali Welp, Fr. (pitcher/infield)

Emma Welp, Fr. (infield)

Notable: Last year was a little bit of a down year for the Forest Park softball team as they finished with a sub-.500 record.

However, the Rangers aren’t getting down on themseleves. In fact, head coach Kelly Schroering says the atmosphere around the Forest Park softball complex has been very exciting during the preseason.

“The atmosphere has been upbeat — the upperclassmen are stepping into leadership roles and everyone is working hard and doing what is asked,” Schroering said. “They are ready to play some games.”

Forest Park graduated five seniors from last year’s group but they return several starters including Kylie Giesler, Kennedy Sermersheim and Macie Zink. Allyson Werner and freshman Ali Welp will be two key contributors on the mound while several other players already have varsity experience.

The Rangers have high hopes for what’s to come this season and are anxious to hit the field for the first time.

Quotable: “Our team is ready to challenge each and every opponent game in and game out and I’m confident that we can do that. If we do that, we will be in the mix to win a sectional championship and finish near the top of the very tough PAC conference.”

Brooklyn Dodd (left) and Elizabeth Kunz return for a Northeast Dubois squad that is seeking to improve on its record for the fourth consecutive year. The Jeeps had a strong campaign last season but fell short to Wood Memorial in the sectional championship.

NE Dubois Jeeps

Last season: Finished with a 15-9 record before being defeated by Wood Memorial in the sectional championship at home.

Opening game: Tuesday vs. North Daviess, 5 p.m.

Returning players:

Brooklyn Dodd, Sr.

Elizabeth Kunz, Sr.

Camryn Stemle, Sr.

Macie Brinkman, Jr.

Amberly Jacob, Jr.

Madison Voegerl, Jr.

Courtney Weisheit, Jr.

Becca Brosmer, Soph.

Alexus Royer, Soph.

Kayleigh VanPelt, Soph.

Key newcomers:

Amber Sander, Jr.

Mia Smith, Soph.

Atalie Atkins, Fr.

Hailey Carie, Fr.

Hadley Fuhrman, Fr.

Kaylin Matheis, Fr.

Brinley Royer, Fr.

Quotable: Since Dion Terwiske took over the Northeast Dubois softball program in 2016, the Jeeps have improved their record every season.

While the Jeeps graduated their top two run-producers from a year ago (Kyndal Green and Clare Mangin both finished with 21 RBIs), Terwiske believes that the returning group of seniors will help to produce an offensive punch that has the potential to create a ripple effect through the rest of the lineup.

“Camryn Stemle, Brooklyn Dodd and Elizabeth Kunz have basically played all four years of their career on varsity,” Terwiske said. “We expect those three seniors to pretty much be the core of the lineup and to lead the program and show the younger girls what to do and how it’s done.”

Stemle and sophomore catcher Becca Brosmer led the team with 24 hits a year ago while Stemle also showed her strengths on the mound with a 2.02 ERA and 35 strikeouts.

The Jeeps will face several tough opponents right away as they open the season against the ranked North Daviess Cougars and then against defending sectional champion Heritage Hills.

Quotable: “I think having those tough games kind of lets you know where you’re at right away and it helps show you what you still need to work on.”

Heritage Hills Patriots

Last season: Finished with a 16-12 record and won their first sectional championship since 2014 with a come from behind victory over Evansville Memorial.

Opening game: Friday, March 29 at Northeast Dubois, 6 p.m.

Returning players:

Lauren Caswell, Sr.

Sierra Schipp, Sr.

Whitney Ward, Sr.

Mariah Zoglman, Sr.

Emma Eubank, Jr.

Brianna Quinn, Jr.

Sydney Richards, Jr.

Haley Waninger, Jr.

Summer Weedman, Jr.

Mallory Garrison, Soph.

Kyla Peter, Soph.

Key newcomers:

Miranda Keller, Jr.

Hallie Harris, Fr.

Hannah Tapley, Fr.

Notable: Coming off of a sectional championship season, the Heritage Hills Patriots are still seeking to improve in several areas.

The area where head coach Joe Asbury hopes to see the most improvement? Consistency.

“Last year we played well in the sectional but we didn’t play well in the regional — our plan is to be a much more consistent group,” Asbury said. “We expect that experience, good and bad, to help us become a more confident team day in and day out.”

Heritage Hills graduated a few key pieces from last year’s sectional championship team including two players who are now playing collegiate softball in Megan Kralj (Rend Lake) and Maddie Fuller (Olney Central). However, the team returns leading hitters Lauren Caswell (52 hits in 2018), Haley Waninger (29 RBI’s in 2018)and Kyla Peter (three home runs in 2018). Pitcher Emma Eubank, who had 85 strikeouts and 11 victories, also returns for the Pats.

No matter how you put it, the Patriots are feeling good heading into the season.

Quotable: “The girls played a lot of softball after our spring season and worked hard to improve this winter individually. With many girls having varsity experience, our leadership has been good in terms of holding others to high standards.”




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