By Scott Vanscoy (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Mike Morelock will take over the helm of the Crane Lady Pirates softball program this season. Crane, always a contender for conference and district championships, went 14-4 last year and 3-2 in the SWCL.
Gone from the team are graduates Eryn Akin and Sadie Burke. Akin hit for a .415 average, .561 slugging %, had 23 runs scored, and 16 RBIs. Burke provided a .311 average, and a .444 slugging %, scoring 19 runs, and totaling 12 RBI’s. While it will be hard to replace the offense Akin and Burke provided, Crane returns 7 starters off of last season’s squad.
Three seniors will lead Crane onto the field this year. Maddie Moreland, who plays 1st base, was named First Team All-Conference and All-District. Moreland batted .452, with a .643 slugging %, scored 13 runs and drove in 19. Maggie Vaught, a 1st Team All District 3rd Baseman, hit for a .225 average, but had .462 on base percentage while scoring 21 runs. Shelby Ellingsworth, 2nd Team All-District, will play shortstop but she is more than just a defensive stand out as she hit .306, slugged .469 and scored 25 runs.
Not to be outdone are the three juniors: Olivia Edwards, McKenzie Funcannon and Katie Robinson. Edwards, an outstanding pitcher, was named to the All Region team, First Team All-Conference and All-District Teams but her plate discipline was solid as well. Edwards hit .385, slugged .513, scored 13 runs, and had 10 RBI’s. Funcannon, a 2nd Baseman, hit for a .304 average and fielded her position at a steady rate. Robinson plays the outfield and slugged .350 last year while scoring 14 runs.
Sophomore outfielder Trinnaty Cutbirth rounds out the returners for Crane. Cutbirth had a .270 average with 11 RBI’s.
Morelock is very optimistic that his crew will be able to compete each and every night. With such a strong core group of girls returning this season, expectations are very high.
“We will not take any games lightly and we will try and improve each and every day,” said Morelock. “Every team’s goal is to improve throughout the season and peak right around time for district play. We will certainly take one game at a time and make a strong run to compete for a district title.”
When asked about how a rematch with Purdy, who knocked Crane out of the playoffs last year, Morelock was cautiously optimistic. “My answer is and will continue to be, we have to get there first,” said Morelock. “We have some amazing programs, teams, and coaches in our conference and district and to overlook them would be a huge mistake.”
Morelock is excited to get his season underway.
“There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm for softball here at Crane,” said Morelock. “There are a lot of underclassmen that are playing this spring. As long as we can keep kids playing, have fun, compete in practice and games every day, and commit to making the team better, this program will be successful. I cannot wait to get started on the 26th.”