Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports

April 10, 2014

SOFTBALL: Howard County preview

Defending MIC champ Eastern leads local squads into new season

(Continued)

Vint, a junior, will also have a couple other arms to catch for. Junior Alyssa Haalck (1.56 ERA in 27 innings) and senior Quinlyn Hochstedler are backup pitchers. Haalck can also play third, and Hochstedler starts in center field.

In the infield, Senior Lizzy Mavrick is at first base, senior Ally Oyler returns to second, and senior Brooke Stout returns to shortstop.

Ally Oyler led the squad with a .391 batting average last season, and led the county with six homers and 32 runs. Twin sister Abby hit .354, Mavrick hit .318, Hochstedler hit .311, and Stout hit a county-best 13 doubles.

Outfield prospects include senior Rachel Wingate, freshman Ashlynn Hochstedler, sophomore Emily Harvath, senior Ericka Northern, and junior Kendall Hensley, who can also take third base.

“I’ve got seven strong returners but we’ve got to find two more, and we’ve got to find some better hitting and that’s probably the key,” Haines said. “I think Abby will be strong on the mound, I think our defense will be strong. Other than that we’ve got to find some outfielders.”

Eastern dropped a 1-0 decision to North Miami in its opener last week. The Comets return to action Monday at Alexandria.

KOKOMO

The Kats hope to build on last season’s 16-10 season and are optimistic of a better campaign this time.

“I really feel like we’ve got a nice mix of some returning veterans and some exciting young players,” second-year coach Mike Susong said. “We’re young, we’ve only got three seniors on the roster and I feel like our skill level has really improved this year. We’ve worked really hard in the offseason. We’ve got a good chance to make some waves this year.”

Two all-North Central Conference players return to the fold in sophomore Cathy Skaggs, who is moving to shortstop after hitting .429 last season, and junior center fielder Paris McCullum (.358). Plus, a healthy Cami Sharp as the primary pitcher should make the staff stronger. The senior hurler had a 2.82 ERA last season in 111 2/3 innings with 78 strikeouts despite batting a problem hip.

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