By Matt Turer — @MattTurer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
HEAD COACH: Rochelle Maubach
2017 RECORD: 14-15
2017 POSTSEASON: DISTRICTS: Lost 13-3 to Lebanon
A year ago, it seemed like Waynesville was ready for a district title run. Those hopes ended in the first game of district play in a 13-3 loss to Lebanon.
The early exit was a little surprising with the Tigers fielding one of the best catchers in southwest Missouri in Morgan Loggins and one of the best young infielders in Afatia Poinsette.
Nearly a year later, Loggins is gone and graduated after hitting .643 as a senior with 28 extra-base hits. Her 59 RBIs were the second-most in MSHSAA single-season softball history. Now, the Tigers must move on. But with that, they move forward with new head coach Rochelle Maubach—an assistant last year for the same Lebanon team that knocked Waynesville out of district play.
“I’m super excited,” Maubach said. “I was ready when they made the announcement to dive in, dig deep and hit the field hard and running.
“Morgan’s are some tough shoes to replace, but from what we have and what we have coming up, I’m positive. My goal is to build a strong, athletic team. Start the season strong and end a lot stronger.”
As with many Waynesville programs, there have been a handful of transfers in and out of the program since last season, including the exits of all-district selections 3B Malia Jennings and P Lacey Sprinkle. Sprinkle threw 125.2 innings last year as a sophomore, meaning the Tigers rotation will be wide open entering the fall.
The bat they’ll lean on will be Poinsette (senior, SS), who followed up a stellar sophomore 2016 season with another great year in 2017. Poinsette stole 35 bases last year, knocked six doubles, four triples and five homers, scored 47 times and batted .383. It will be fun to see how she continues to progress as she enters the final year of her high school career.
“She’s one of our leaders offensively and defensively this year,” Maubach said. “Lots of high hopes and expectations.”
But as Waynesville faces a slight rebuild, new couldn’t be more excited about the future with Waynesville establishing its first ever middle school softball program—a key component to consistency on the high school level.
“I’m very hopeful for the program going forward,” Maubach said.
And that includes 2018 thanks to the names returning beyond Poinsette. Even with Jennings and Sprinkle gone, the Tigers return two more all-district selections in junior outfielder Megan Pattison (.388 AVG., 16 SB) and junior first baseman Taylor King (.297 AVG., 5 HR).
“Megan is a strong offensive and defensive player for us, and Taylor provides a sound bat and versatility defensively,” Maubach said.
Isabelle Pondrum was expected to get the first look on the mound this year, but she may miss some time with a recent injury.
“She’s grown a lot as a pitcher,” Maubach said. “Her ball has developed a lot more consistency, speed and movement.”
Maubach also pointed to St. Clair move-in Hannah Kitchen as well as Bailey Shultz and Mia Williams as names to watch.
Waynesville opens August 24 in the Sullivan Tournament.