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2017 high school girls softball preview

By: Warren Mayes


The Incarnate Word Academy Red Knights are loaded this season.

The squad returns eight starters to its softball team that finished 16-8 last year. Coach Rachel Gill said her team has the experience and energy to have a successful year.

Marquette coach Amy Doyle has a solid season in her first year leading the Mustangs in 2016, going 26-3 before seeing the campaign end in the sectional round in Class 4 play. Doyle has both her starting pitchers from last season back.

Eureka went through a rebuilding year last fall and ended with a 12-10 record. The Wildcats will have seven starters back this season for coach Mark Mosley.

Principia has new coach this season. Kyle Johnson takes over the Panthers, who finished 5-10 last fall. He has four starters back for his debut season.

Here is a look at the West County teams in alphabetical order:

Eureka Wildcats
2016 record: 12-10. Finished fifth at 5-2 in Suburban West Conference. Lost 8-3 to Northwest in Class 4 District 4 semifinal.
Coach: Mark Mosley. Entering eighth year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Jim Daffron and PJ Arway.
Returning number of starters: 7.
Players on team to watch for this fall: Expecting a lot of girls to step up this year and contribute.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Lexi Howard, Sydney Dennis, and Kira Kolander.
Captains: No captains in the program.
Players who have committed to a college: Ashley Poore to Quincy University.
Team strengths: Doing the little things right and being good teammates.
Goals: Win district.
Teams in Suburban West Conference: Eureka, Fox, Lafayette, Lindbergh, Marquette, Mehlville, Northwest, Oakville, Parkway South, Seckman.
Favorites to win conference: Marquette, Seckman, Oakville,
Class 4 District 4 teams: Eureka, Lafayette, Northwest, Rolla, Washington.
First game: 4:15 p.m. Monday (Aug. 21) at Washington.
Quote: “Last year was a rebuilding year for us, and I think our young girls learned a lot about what it takes to be successful at the varsity level,” Mosley said. “I’m very excited about the potential this group has, and hopefully the growing pains last year plus some new faces on the team will lead to a more productive and sound team this year.”

Incarnate Word Academy Red Knights
2016 record: 16-8. Finished second at 3-1 in MWAA. Won Class 3 District 6 title with 10-2 win over Clayton. Lost 15-0 to Warrenton in Class 3 quarterfinal game.
Coach: Rachel Gill. Entering seventh year as co-head coach with ather, Mike Gill, also in his seventh year as co-head coach.
Assistant coaches: Volunteer assistant Alexis Doherty.
Returning number of starters: All but one starter is returning.
Players on team to watch for this fall: Senior P Alexis Becker, who also is leadoff hitter and a “great” team leader, senior CF Micah Arps, sophomore C Grace Paez.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Freshmen Lauren Gallager and Mia Boyd, who are both pitchers and that should be able to contribute offensively at some point as well.
Captains: Lexi Becker, Micah Arps and Abby Armentrout. All are seniors who have started since their freshman year.
Team strengths: Strength will definitely have to be the defense. With returning eight of the nine starters from last year, the defense has played together already and will hopefully start where they left off. The other team strength is the fact that this team finds a way to have fun regardless of the situation. The energy that they bring to each game brings a unique confidence that aids in success.
Goals: Main team goal every year is to win a state championship, but we know that there are many goals that must attained prior to achieving that. Will work hard to narrow the focus on the aspects that will get the team ready to compete and approach the season one game at a time. Regardless if team wins or loses a regular season game, the squad try to learn as much from it and apply it to the next.
Teams in MWAA: Cor Jesu, Incarnate Word Academy, Nerinx Hall, St. Joseph’s Academy, Ursuline Academy.
Favorites to win conference: Cor Jesu and IWA. The one thing is that being favored to win something means nothing. With that said, anyone can take the conference.
Class 3 District 6 teams: Clayton, Incarnate Word Academy, Jennings, McCluer South-Berkeley, Normandy, University City.
First game: 4 p.m. Wednesday (Aug. 23) at St. Dominic.
Quote: “We are excited to see what this year brings,” Gill said. “We are returning all of our starters except for one. Every year we work hard from the beginning to end because we know that it what it will take to succeed in the postseason. This is the first year, in a long time, that we have a good amount of experience with the number of upper classman on the team. One thing that sets us apart from a lot of other teams is that we have a lot of energy coming out of the dugout and on the field for the entire seven innings. I attribute a lot of our past success to the fact that this team knows how to have fun while playing this sport. We have set high expectations for ourselves and we are going to have a lot of fun working toward achieving each and every one of them.”

Lafayette Lancers
2016 record: 8-15. Tied for seventh at 2-6 in Suburban West Conference. Lost 9-4 to Washington in Class 4 District 4 semifinal.
Coach: Scott DeNoyer. Entering 14th year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Christine Brown, Michelle Vaughn, Scott Holtmann.
Returning number of starters: 5.
Players on team to watch for this fall: Senior Megan Walker, junior Emma Kramer, sophomore Callie Harrison, senior Anna Curran, senior Kelli Ellis, senior Sam Hegger, senior Corryne Sontag, sophomore Maddie Chester.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Junior Samantha Doehring, junior Morgan Nichols, junior Katherine Gluesenkamp, junior Emma Volmert.
Captains: Not named.
Players who have committed to a college: None at this time.
Team strengths: Pitching and defense with an offense that has potential to put up some runs.
Goals: Win state.
Teams in Suburban West Conference: Eureka, Fox, Lafayette, Lindbergh, Marquette, Mehlville, Northwest, Oakville, Parkway South, Seckman.
Class 4 District 4 teams: Eureka, Lafayette, Northwest, Rolla, Washington.
First game: 4:15 p.m. Wednesday (Aug. 23) at Fort Zumwalt South.
Quote: “This is a great group to be around every day,” DeNoyer said. “They have talent, a great work ethic, and few characters to keep us loose. With our competition for playing time we are expecting to get better every day and be ready for postseason play.”

Marquette Mustangs
2016 record: 26-3. Won Suburban West Conference with 10-0 record. Beat Rockwood Summit 6-1 to win district title. Lost 2-1 in Class 4 sectional game.
Coach: Amy Doyle. Entering second year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Adam Starling, Kevin Sharitz, Jacob Stiglich.
Returning number of starters: 9.
Players on team to watch for this fall: Pitchers Annah Junge, Eileen McGinnis. Infielders Kelsey Lenox, Lillie Knesel, Tabby Cacheris, Jenna Schatz.
Captains: To be determined.
Players who have committed to a college: Kelsey Lenox to South Dakota State. Lillie Knesel to Dayton.
Team strengths: Return both starting pitchers so will be strong on the mound again this year. Offensively, team has a number of consistent hitters who will be tough to beat this season.
Goals: The goal is to focus on doing the little things right and controlling what we can control and forgetting the rest. We plan to focus on the process, not the result.
Teams in Suburban West Conference: Eureka, Fox, Lafayette, Lindbergh, Marquette, Mehlville, Northwest, Oakville, Parkway South, Seckman.
Favorites to win conference: We have a strong conference and it’s too early to tell.
Class 4 District 3 teams: Kirkwood, Marquette, Parkway South, Parkway West, Rockwood Summit, St. Joseph’s Academy.
First game: 4:15 p.m. Friday (Aug. 18) versus Summit.
Quote: We are excited for our season to get under way,” Doyle said. “Every year is different and offers new challenges and opportunities. We plan to build on the Marquette Softball tradition of excellence that has developed over the years by working to empower our student-athletes on and off the field.”

Parkway Central Colts
2016 record: 13-11. Won Suburban Central-National Division with 4-0 record. Lost 9-1 to Francis Howell North in Class 4 District 5 championship game.
Coach: Melissa Sommerfeld. Entering third​ year as head coach.
Assistant coaches:​ Melanie Holland.​
Returning number of starters: ​7​.
Players on team to watch for this fall: ​Senior pitcher Lizzy Millner, junior third baseman Margaret Vierling.
Newcomers expected to contribute: ​Freshman utility player and pitcher Riley Perry.
Captains:​ Senior Lizzy Millner, ​senior Emily West, junior Molly Wesolich, junior Talia Emch.
Players who have committed to a college: None at this time.
Team strengths: ​Have a young, eager team with a passion to compete. In addition, also will have strong defense with a fast offense. ​
Goals: ​Win both conference and districts.
Teams in Suburban Central Conference-National Division: Affton, Clayton, Ladue, Parkway Central, Parkway West.
Favorites to win National Division: ​Parkway West.
Class 4 District 5 teams: Francis Howell North, Ladue, Parkway Central, Parkway North, Pattonville, Ritenour.
First game:​4 p.m. Monday (Aug. 21) versus Kirkwood at Ballwin Field No. 3 in Parkway Invitational​.
Quote: ​”The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra,” Sommerfeld said. “We have a group of girls who are willing to give the little extra to be successful.”

Parkway North Vikings
2016 record: 4-21. Finished last at 0-5 in Suburban XII-South Division. Lost 8-6 to Francis Howell North in Class 4 District 5 semifinal game.
Coach: Jamesell Kee. Entering second year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: David Wiggins, Katie Alexander, Adam Ketcherside.
Returning number of starters: 6.
Players on team to watch for this fall: Junior C/IF Rylea Smith, junior P/3B Katy Baker,junior C/3B Savanna Javaux, senior 1B Cortni’ Spann.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Freshman P/IF Siena Berman, freshman 1B/P/OF Mia Clark.
Captains: Not named yet.
Players who have committed to a college: Rylea Smith verbal to University of Kentucky.
Team strengths: Look to Infield defense to be a team strength this year.
Goals: Play good team defense and reduce the amount of errors and walks allowed per game from last year.
Teams in Suburban XII-South Division: Kirkwood, Parkway North, Pattonville, Ritenour, Summit, Webster Groves.
Favorites to win conference: Kirkwood, Summit
Class 4 District 5 teams: Francis Howell North, Ladue, Parkway Central, Parkway North, Pattonville, Ritenour.
First game: 6 p.m. Monday (Aug 21.) versus Pattonville at Manchester Field No. 2 in the Parkway Invitational.
Quote: “We are excited to be a year older after only graduating one senior,” Kee said. “We believe we still have some growing to do as we only have two seniors and have a few freshmen who will contribute at the varsity level. Focusing on eliminating some of the mistakes we made a year ago. ”

Parkway South Patriots
2016 record: 12-12. Finished fourth at 6-2 in Suburban West Conference. Lost 4-0 to Marquette in Class 4 District 3 championship game.
Coach: Marvin Medcalf. Entering third year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Dave McFarland, Joe Rhodes.
Returning number of starters: 8.
Players on team to watch for this fall: We return a strong senior class and in the circle we expect to see junior Mary Burkhalter, senior Emma Steltzer, and senior Kristen Eads compete at a high level. Returning in the catching role is our standout receiver and hitter, junior Lauren Kehlenbrink.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Rhiannon Bracci, Paige Kehlenbrink, and Emma Bovaconti.
Captains: Seniors form our Senior Council that rotate in the captain role.
Players who have committed to a college: None at this time.
Teams in Suburban West Conference: Eureka, Fox, Lafayette, Lindbergh, Marquette, Mehlville, Northwest, Oakville, Parkway South, Seckman.
Favorites to win conference: This conference is very strong and any team can and will compete for the top spot.
Class 4 District 3 teams: Kirkwood, Marquette, Parkway South, Parkway West, Rockwood Summit, St. Joseph’s Academy.
First game: 4 p.m. Monday (Aug 21.) versus De Soto at Manchester Field No. 2 in the Parkway Invitational.
Quote: “While we are untested at this point, we have high hopes for a stronger season this year with everyone healthy and a great returning group of team leaders,” Medcalft said. “Several of our players have stepped up their game this summer by competing at a very high level on their respective travel teams. Our slogan for the season is ‘Team First,’ putting our focus on each player contributing and giving their best for the good of the team. We have told each player that whatever their role may be, it is important to the team effort. We teach each player to treat their fellow teammates, opponents, and coaches with respect and hope that life lessons are learned during the season. Parkway South softball has a strong tradition of excellence both on and off the field, and we feel this group of players will make their mark this season.”

Parkway West Longhorns
2016 record: 4-13. Finished tied for second at 2-2 in Suburban Central-National Division. Lost 4-0 to Kirkwood in district opener.
Coach: Jeff Chazen. Entering ninth year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Don Rothermich, John Sloop, Ryan Pietsch.
Returning number of starters: 8.
Players on team to watch for this fall: Junior P Taylor Caton, sophomore P Haley Schulte, junior Lauren Horn, senior Erin Leahy, Mollie Wright.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Freshman CF Megan Leahy, freshman DH Dorothy Wunderlich.
Captains: Have not chosen yet.
Players who have committed to a college: None at this time.
Team strengths: Returning eight starters including two pitchers, all of the infield and two-third of the outfield. Experience will be an asset this year. This team took their beatings last year mostly due to youth and inexperience. They have shown tremendous growth and “softball smarts” so far this preseason. Good mix of senior leadership and younger talent. Also, this team is hard working and coachable — two important traits to successful teams.
Goals: Compete for conference and district titles; improve every game; have fun.
Teams in Suburban Central Conference-National Division: Affton, Clayton, Ladue, Parkway Central, Parkway West.
Favorites to win National Division: Parkway Central and Affton are always tough.
Class 4 District 3 teams: Kirkwood, Marquette, Parkway South, Parkway West, Rockwood Summit, St. Joseph’s Academy.
First game: 6 p.m. Monday (Aug 21.) versus Northwest at Ballwin Field No. 43 in Parkway Invitational.
Quote: “This team will be much more formidable after the lessons learned last season,” Chazen said. “Our character and work ethic will carry us throughout the season and allow us to deal with the obstacles of season. I am extremely excited to see what the potential of this team is.”

Principia Panthers
2016 record: 5-10. Finished second at 2-1 in Metro League Lost 18-2 in district opener to Valley Park.
Coach: Kyle Johnson. Entering first year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Kelcey Whitney and Kara Johnson
Returning number of starters: 4.
Players on team to watch for this fall: Senior SS Cameron Bania, junior P Gracie Paul, junior C Alyssa Savoye, junior 2B Heather Savoye.
Newcomers expected to contribute: All of them. We have 10 players.
Captains: To be named.
Players who have committed to a college: None at this time.
Team strengths: Will be strong up the middle with returning players at pitcher, catcher, shortstop, and second base. Also have great team chemistry.
Goals: Learn something new every day, play with heart, have tons of fun.
Teams in Metro League: Lutheran North, Lutheran South, Principia, Westminster Christian Academy.
Favorites to win conference: Lutheran South, Westminster.
Class 2 District 5 teams: Brentwood, Lutheran North, Metro, Principia, Valley Park.
First game: 4:15 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 29) at Trinity.
Quote: “I love the enthusiasm my team brings everyday to the field,” Johnson said. “I am excited to watch them grow throughout the season.”

St. Joseph’s Academy Angels
2016 record: 5-17. Finished fourth at 1-3 in MWAA. Lost 11-0 to Parkway South in district opener.
Coach: J.P. Cummings. Entering 23rd year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Meredith Wilson.
Players on team to watch for this fall: Senior P/INF Morgan Wilson, junior /INF Caroline Cutler, junior C/INF Anna Basile, sophomore P/Utility Natalie Murray.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Freshman utility Amber Kopf, junior OF Lauren Limp.
Captains: Not named.
Players who have committed to a college: None at this time.
Team strengths: Overall athleticism, work ethic.
Goals: Get better every day, be consistent, be demanding.
Teams in MWAA: Cor Jesu, Incarnate Word Academy, Nerinx Hall, St. Joseph’s Academy, Ursuline Academy
Favorites to win conference: Hard to predict.
Class 4 District 3 teams: Kirkwood, Marquette, Parkway South, Parkway West, Rockwood Summit, St. Joseph’s Academy.
First game: 4:15 p.m. Thursday (Aug. 24) vs. Lutheran South
Quote: “We want to get better, will yourself to get better, (and) be ready on every pitch,” Cummings said.

Westminster Christian Academy Wildcats
2016 record: 5-13. Finished third at 1-2 in Metro League. Lost 16-6 in district opener to Affton.
Coach: Dan Petke. Entering second year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Ally Gardner.
Returning number of starters: 8.
Players on team to watch for this fall: Sophomore INF Reese Earleywine, sophomore C Lauren Gates.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Freshman OF Nicki Mabry.
Captains: Deanne Pfyl, Maddie Volding, Dani Mabry.
Team strengths: Will have strong infield defense.
Goals: Improve physically and mentally each day. Improve pitching and defensive numbers.
Teams in Metro League: Lutheran North, Lutheran South, Principia, Westminster Christian Academy.
Favorites to win conference: Lutheran South.
Class 3 District 4 teams: Affton, Pacific, St. Clair, St. Francis Borgia, Union, Westminster Christian Academy.
First game: 4 p.m. Friday (Aug. 18) versus St. Pius X (Festus) at Notre Dame in the Notre Dame Preseason Tournament.
Quote: We have a great group of girls this year and I look forward to seeing all they can accomplish together on and off the field.

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