By Chris Parker
Joplin softball enters the second year of the Jaclyn Prater era looking to improve on last year’s six-win season as they move from the Ozark Conference to the Central Ozark Conference.
“The greatest challenge for us moving into the COC will be the competition level,” Prater said. “I came from this conference and I know that the competition we will see will be greater than what we are used to. We have been working hard all offseason to prepare and we feel confident that the girls will rise to the occasion. The greatest opportunity would have to also be the competition level. Our girls look forward to a challenge and they want some redemption after last season. Moving into a more competitive conference will help our girls to become more well-rounded athletes as a whole.”
Seniors Erin Tyler (outfield) and Maddie Carey (utility) along with junior Gabby Quinn (outfield), sophomore Layni Merriman (middle infield) and freshman Madisyn Tracy (pither/utility) have stood out with their work in the offseason according to Prater.
“Joplin High School has been working to set higher expectations for our student athletes and those athletes that have adopted these expectations have shown great improvement,” Prater said. “All of our softball players have worked incredibly hard and have all improved greatly throughout offseason.”
Joplin will have several players pitching this year that include seniors Cierra Barber and Aydan Perrin along with underclassmen Brittney Shryock and Madisyn Tracy.
Senior Clorissa Harns saw innings behind the plate at catcher last season and has the inside track to the varsity spot this year.
Christa Gould (senior third baseman), Candace Bryant (sophomore third baseman), Layni Merriman (sophomore shortstop), Jocee Weston (junior second baseman), Bailey Busick (senior second baseman), Madisyn Tracy (freshman first baseman) and Cierra Barber (senior first baseman/pitcher) will compete to comprise the Joplin infield.
Gabby Quinn (junior centerfielder), Erin Tyler (senior corner outfielder), Ayden Perrin (senior outfielder/pitcher), Caitlin Sedrick (junior outfielder) and Tatum Stogsdill (sophomore outfielder) will comprise the outfield this year.
“Our overall expectation is to compete. Our athletes have been working hard and are excited for the new challenges the COC brings. We want to compete in the new conference and show that we belong in a more competitive atmosphere,” Prater said.
Joplin will travel to Carthage on Aug. 21 at 4:30 pm for a jamboree with the host Lady Tigers, Carl Junction and Neosho. Joplin opens the regular season at home against McDonald County.