By Matt Turer (For OzarksSportsZone.com) — @MattTurer
HEAD COACH: Ty Goetz
2017 RECORD: 20-8
2017 POSTSEASON: STATE CHAMPIONSHIP: Won 4-1 vs. Notre Dame (Cape Girardeau)
Monett is down two key all-state members from its 2017 Class 3 state championship team, but Ty Goetz’s group made that impressive run with a deep roster that sees a number of key returners for 2018.
“I like the crew we’ve got coming back,” Goetz said. “We’re gonna miss the seniors but it’s not like we’re starting fresh. We’ve got a good nucleus back.”
The biggest missing pieces are all-state pitcher Josie Allcock (16-6, 3.30 ERA) and all-state infielder Katie Kurima (.517 AVG., 47 SB).
All-state junior outfielder Kaesha George (.477 AVG.) returns and is expected to hit leadoff. The Cubs return five all-district selections as well, including senior infielder Kelli McCallister (.398 AVG., 28 RBI, 17 SB), junior outfielder Ashley Kurima (.380 AVG., 23 SB), senior outfielder Maddi Coones (.404 AVG., 11 XBH, 35 RBI) and junior infielder Kassie McCallister (.300 AVG., 2 HR, 22 RBIs).
The biggest question for the Cubs will be pitching after Allcock secured the main role early on and carried Monett in the Final 4, where they shutout Smithville 2-0 in the semifinals and shut down Notre Dame (Cape Girardeau) 4-1 in the championship.
“Early on it’ll be kind of like it was last year when we were throwing two or three pitchers early until Josie solidified it,” Goetz said. “I can see it being the same way this year. We’ve got two or three girls we can throw out there.
“Whoever has the hot hand can take it over. In years past I’ve hesitated with that. I’ve wanted to know the No. 1 for sure, but last year changed my perspective. Going into last year Josie was probably our No. 3 and ended up being our ace.”
Kassie McCallister is Monett’s likely top starter to open 2018 after tossing 51.1 innings to a 4.03 ERA and 16 strikeouts as a sophomore, but Goetz said he’ll be looking at sophomore Caitlin Calhoun as well and possibly George.
CHAMPIONSHIP IMPACTING FUTURE CUBS
As with all state titles, the banner has come with increased interest in the program that could help ensure continued deep runs into the postseason for Monett.
“It adds excitement for those returning,” Goetz said. “We had a youth camp and our numbers were as high as they ever have been. Its’ good to see more interest.”
Goetz is known to schedule up, a strategy he says prepares his group for the Class 3 postseason.
This year Monett has Class 4 power programs like Webb City, Republic and Kickapoo on the schedule.