By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Dora’s 2017 season featured a 17-11 record and a district title. While the Lady Falcons fell in the sectional round to Chaffee, head coach Dylan Fox was pleased with his team’s successful run.
“We ended the season losing in the last inning to Chaffee that went on to play in the final four,” Fox said. “I couldn’t have asked much more from the girls. They just got beat by a better team.”
Before it launches another attack on the postseason, Dora must first replace a pair of key contributors in graduates Kryslyn Colvin and Desiree Downen.
Colvin, an all-state shortstop selection, hit .603 for the Lady Falcons with a pair of home runs. She will play at Three Rivers Community College this fall.
“Kryslyn was our motor last year,” Fox said. “She kept us going and made an impact on every play. Her loss will hurt us pretty bad.”
While the departures of Colvin and Downen leave some holes in the roster, Dora does return some key components from last year’s district championship squad.
Senior pitcher Keeli Land (.457 / 2 HR) will carry the load in the circle and hit in the middle of Dora’s lineup this season. She’ll be joined by senior Taylor Trail, senior Hailey Jones and impact junior Mary Fehr as varsity leaders.
Sophomore Riley Collins and freshman Cassidy Hambelton are both expected to step into big roles for the Lady Falcons.
After a promising year at third base, Collins will take over at shortstop, while Hambelton is expected to move around the infield.
“All in all, we will be about like we were last year,” Fox said. “We will have some games early that we could struggle in — especially with the tough schedule we have — but it will make us much better in the end.”
Dora’s schedule will provide a host of stiff challenges right from the start, with early-season matchups against Willard, Walnut Grove, Mansfield and Norwood.
Fox believes those early-season tests could pay big dividends by the time district play rolls around.
“Our defense will keep us in a lot of games, and by the end of the season our bats will come around like they did last year,” Fox said. “By the end of the season, we will be a pretty scary team, especially if the girls keep improving like they did all summer.”
Dora opens the season at Aug. 24 at Alton.