Archive for Thursday, March 17, 2005

Softball team looks to repeat 2004 success

March 17, 2005

The 2005 edition of the Eudora Cardinals softball looks to build on a second-place finish in last year's Frontier League.

But for fifth-year head coach Cara Kimberlin, there is one thing she didn't want to see repeated.

"Strikeouts," she said. "Last year we had way too many strikeouts and not enough walks."

In 2004 the Cardinals had 93 strikeouts compared to 44 walks. These numbers don't fit into the head coach's philosophy of getting on base and putting the ball into play.

"That's something that we're going to have to work on," Kimberlin said. "In high school softball, you have to get the ball into play because you always have a chance to get on base."

The Cardinals return nearly the entire roster from last year's 18-4 squad. Some of those players will have one more year of experience, and that helps the coach narrow her focus of improvement.

"It helps to have nearly the entire team return, because you don't have to spend a whole lot of time going over the things that you would have to with a lot of new players," she said.

Although the Cardinal hitters struggled at times last year with strikeouts, there is much to build on.

Senior center fielder Kayla Moyer returns as the Cardinals lead-off hitter. Last season she led the team with a .417 batting average and .517 on-base percentage.

Jacqueline Pyle hits in the No. 2 spot and brings back a crucial ability to advance runners.

"She did a great job of moving her (Kayla) over," Kimberlin said.

Pyle led the Cardinals with 12 sacrifices.

As for the power part of the game, senior catcher Alissa Hamilton returns from a 16 RBI season with a little different approach.

"She struggled last year," Kimberlin said. "She kept trying to swing for the fences. So this year we will try and get her to focus on keeping the ball down and shooting for the gaps."

Junior first baseman Karen Spence will add a much-needed left-handed bat in a predominately right-handed line-up.

On the mound, the Cardinals will try and replace one of their top hurlers from last year, departed senior Kelly Spence.

Spence pitched 135 of 153 innings for Eudora last spring, while walking only 16 batters.

That hole may be filled from the junior varsity ranks, as sophomore Caitlyn Riser brings an 0.77 earned run average back from seven varsity appearances in 2004. In addition, she delivered a complete game against league foe Paola.

Brynn Hamilton should figure into the rotation, as well as eight other candidates from last year's varsity and junior varsity ranks.

Whoever takes the mound for Eudora, they will not have to worry about the defense behind them.

Aside from Brynn Hamilton at first and Pyle at second, the Cardinals return third baseman Kelsey Epperson and junior shortstop Michelle Deluna.

Epperson brings a .917 fielding percentage to the hot corner, while Deluna has the complete confidence of her head coach.

"I wouldn't trade her for any of the shortstops in the league," Kimberlin said. "She just moves so well in that position."

Joining Moyer in the outfield are senior left fielder Jamie Bowser and sophomore right fielder Beth Folks.

With a good returning defense and solid prospects at pitching, the Cardinals in 2005 look forward to repeating the success of last year.

They also hope to make the 93 strikeouts like last year -- history.

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