The high school softball season is here and several teams are in position to make noise in the spring of 2014. Eastern returns a host of key players from a Mid-Indiana Conference championship squad, Western and Taylor return nearly their entire lineups, and Kokomo and Northwestern have some key veterans back.
The following are previews of the five Howard County squads, in order of their records from last season.
A senior-heavy team returns after a 20-5 season with several key veterans in place but also question marks as the defending MIC champions try to forge another contending team.
“We’ve got good experience back, especially in the infield, but we’re trying to fill three positions,” Eastern coach Jerry Haines said. “One of them is catcher, and one’s third base, and one’s an outfield position. We’re struggling to find how to get those positions all filled right now.”
The Comets’ strength starts in the pitching circle, where senior Abby Oyler returns after a dominant season. She led the county with an ERA of 0.96 over 150 innings with 154 strikeouts.
“I think our pitching will be strong,” Haines said. “Our hitting hopefully is going to come along. We’re going to have to get these three positions filled [defensively] and catcher is a really tough position when you’ve got a strong pitcher. Right now, Maddie Vint’s moved into that position. She played outfield last year, and hopefully she’s going to round into a really good catcher this year. That’s probably the place we’re working hardest on.
“We’re still struggling to get nine hitters in the lineup. We’ve got about six and in tough games, it’s difficult to win when you run out of hitters toward the bottom of the lineup. We’ve got quite a few people that hopefully are going to come on and with a little more experience are going to help us with hitting down in the lineup.”