By Chris Parker
Marshfield came up one game short of advancing to the Class 3 state tournament last year, as the Lady Blue Jays saw their season end with a 9-4 loss in the district championship game. They finished the season with a 13-13 record.
This year, Marshfield will face some new challenges as the Lady Blue Jays join the Big 8 conference.
“With the new conference schedule, we’re excited to see new teams and new challenges from people we haven’t normally competed against in the past,” Marshfield head coach Jessica Gorham said.
Senior Blayke Taylor enters her junior season and her third year in the circle for Marshfield, which provides the program with stability at the most important position. She earned honorable mention all-conference honors last season.
Izzy Harrison returns at third base after earning first-team all-conference honors in her junior season. Last season she hit .407 with a .455 on-base percentage. She also had 21 RBI and scored 28 runs.
“Izzy is our most experienced player and is a very tough out,” Gorham said. “She competes every at bat and we’ll look to her to produce runs for us offensively. We will also look to her to provide leadership on the infield as she will have a young supporting cast around her.”
Haliegh Clift returns behind the plate at catcher to provide senior leadership. She earned second-team all-conference honors last season after hitting .338 with 17 RBI and 15 runs scored.
Courtney Duncan is the final returning all-conference player after being named second-team all-conference in the outfield. The speedy senior scored 14 and drove in 18 runs to go with a .380 batting average.
Gorham expects a strong group of freshmen to push for varsity playing time this year. That mix of experience and youth has the Lady Jays aiming to get even deeper in the postseason this year.
“We ended last season with a loss in the championship game of districts. We’d like to get back there with the hopes of a different outcome. One day at a time, we have to continue to grow as a team, trust each other and step out on the field ready to compete,” Gorham said.
Marshfield will travel to Camdenton on Aug. 21 for a jamboree with the host Lady Lakers, Iberia and Sedalia. The Lady Jays open the season on Aug. 24 and 25 at the Morrisville Tournament.