By Matt Turer (For OzarksSportsZone.com) — @MattTurer
HEAD COACH: Shauna Friend
2017 RECORD: 25-6-1
2017 POSTSEASON: STATE QUARTERFINALS: Lost 5-3 to Blue Springs South (17 innings)
A wild 10-inning Class 4 state quarterfinal ended in heartbreak for Webb City last fall with the Cardinals falling 5-3 to eventual state runner-up Blue Springs South.
With that loss the Cardinals said goodbye to a trio of all-state seniors in infielder Mareika Turpen, outfielder Mariah Newby and utility player Addison Darby.
The career accolades for all three are tremendous and Turpen goes out as one of the best bats in southwest Missouri over the past few years, hitting .524 with 20 extra-base hits and 44 RBIs last season. Newby added a .490 average of her own and Darby a .500 clip with 19-extra base hits, including a team-best seven dingers and 49 RBIs.
Darby also led the Cardinals with 68.2 innings pitched and 78 strikeouts, posting a 2.62 ERA.
But this is a Webb City team that looks forward, not back, and revamps without rebuilding.
“As always, our goals are to finish first in conference, win districts and compete in the Final Four,” head coach Shauna Friend said.
That starts with a pitching staff that returns maybe its best arm and a second that saw plenty of time on the mound as a freshman. Senior Quincie Capron led Webb City in 2017 with a 1.22 ERA over 34.1 innings, striking out 19 and finishing with a 7-0 mark. Sophomore Haidyn Berry will also be looked to after tossing 28.1 innings as a freshman. Friend mentioned juniors Kaia Storm and Darcy Darnell and sophomore Bayleigh Carrier as additional pitching options.
Storm is Webb City’s only returning all-district selection and has the potential to be an all-state pick this year after batting .418 over 98 at-bats as a sophomore.
ADDITIONAL PLAYERS TO WATCH + COACH’S COMMENTARY
Ali Vanzant, senior, .311 AVG. in 2017: “A middle infielder with a great knowledge of the game, consistent at the plate, and a strong leader on the field.”
Renae Gilmore (.414 AVG.) + Kaia Storm (previously mentioned): “They will continue to fuel our offense this year. Renae will do so in the outfield and Kaia as a first baseman/pitcher. Both are threats at the plate.”
Haidyn Berry (.388 AVG., 6 XBH): “She’s going to be a huge factor for us at the plate and one of our defensive leaders.”
Karson Culver (.316 AVG.) + Trobi Haslip: “Both have powerful bats and good defensive skills.”
Keira Jackson + Mayci Meador: “Both have strong arms in the outfield.”
Stacy Tyndall (.263 AVG.) + Darcy Darnell: “I have confidence playing these two at nearly any position on the field. They’re very versatile defensive players, both have hit the ball well this summer.”
Friend will also look to junior Taylor Harris and senior Maddie Welch to step into consistent roles this fall.
EARLY ONES TO WATCH
Webb City travels to Class 3 state champion Monett on August 30 and then faces some big early tests in the Joplin Tournament against the host Eagles, Ozark, Willard and Branson.