By Chris Parker
Carl Junction softball will have a young team coming off a 4-25 season a year ago. The Lady Bulldogs lost both of their all-conference selections in Karli Frazier and Kaylie Hulette to graduation. Just two seniors return to this year’s team with as many as six freshman and sophomores that could see the starting lineup.
Pitching duties will likely be split between three players in junior Hannah Carnes and sophomores Jayden Green and Saedra Allen.
Allen, who missed her freshman season due to a knee injury, has been particularly impressive over the summer according to third-year head coach Zachary Petty.
“She (Allen) has really opened some eyes,” Petty said. “She will move around in regards to where she plays. She essentially earned a spot in our lineup for the fall from her work this summer.”
Allison Plumlee is just a freshman, but will immediately handle the pitching staff as the starting catcher.
The infield will consist of senior Kyndal Channel at third base, junior Maddy Bowers at shortstop and Julia Fiechtl at second base. Fiechtl hit .286 last season while Bowers hit .253.
First base will be a mix of players depending on who is pitching. That group includes Junior Izabella Burgess and sophomore Bryn Neira along with Green and Carnes. Burgess hit .287 last season and was an all-district outfielder.
The outfield will have five girls competing for the three spots. Sophomore Kalyssa Hagston is the returning starting centerfielder. Juniors Kennadi Stegall and Ashley Stokes and sophomore Emme Beaver will vie for outfield time. Burgess and Allen could also see time in the outfield when they are not pitching. Beaver hit .280 last year.
The Bulldogs may be lacking in varsity experience early one, but not in talent.
“We feel that we have the talent necessary to have a good team,” Petty said. “Our focus this offseason and summer has been to improve our offense. We improved tremendously on defense last season, so now we have shifted our focus to the offensive side of our game. Our big picture goal is to be playing our best when districts roll around.”
Carl Junction will have its preseason scrimmage on Aug. 22 at Carthage with Carthage, Joplin and Neosho. The Lady Bulldogs open their season on Aug. 24 at Reeds Spring.