By Matt Turer — firstname.lastname@example.org
Waynesville softball seems like a program on the verge of what could be something special. The Tigers are an intriguing group with what they bring back offensively and on the mound with two of the top five bats in the Ozark Conference in junior centerfielder Afatia Poinsette and senior catcher Morgan Loggins, plus sophomore pitcher Lacey Sprinkle.
Poinsette hit .529 last year (1.426 OPS) with 16 extra-base hits, 47 runs, 18 RBIs and 24 steals. Loggins hit .516 (1.439 OPS) with 19 extra-base hits (7 HR), 29 runs and 44 RBIs. Sprinkle was 8-8 with a 2.98 ERA and 1.44 WHIP as a freshman, striking out 51 in 94 innings. If she can continue to improve, Waynesville could finish in the Top 3 of the OC, and head coach Scott Turner didn’t shy away from agreeing.
“I believe we should be considered as one of the top teams this year along with West Plains and Camdenton,” he said.
Turner called Loggins one of the best in the area offensively and defensively and proclaimed Poinsette as the best centerfielder in the area.
“She can hit, run, cover ground, and throw,” Turner said. “She led off for us last year and really set the tone.”
Keep an eye on sophomore left fielder Megan Pattison as well. Pattison only had 41 at-bats last year but finished with a .512 average. She’ll play full-time this fall and hit in the two-hole. Malia Jennings is another talented sophomore to watch (.349 AVG./5 doubles). Jennings played outfield for most of last year before moving to the infield late. She was competing for the starting shortstop job over the summer.
Turner also pointed who junior Aubree Derr and Taylor King as players to watch. King played outfield and third base last year. Derr is expected to put up a high on-base percentage and be a good defensive outfielder.
“We [also] have some move-ins and a freshman class that we look forward to seeing what they can bring to the table.”
Waynesville finished 2016 14-14 (5-4 OC). The Tigers scored 194 runs and allowed 184 (82 of those runs were unearned).
“Our defensive play let us down last year,” Turner said. “A big focus for us will be on defense and making the routine play consistently. We’ve had good numbers this summer and look forward to putting in the work throughout the season to close the gap in our defensive play.”