By John Miller (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Expectations are high for the Mount Vernon Mountaineers softball team this spring – and for good reason. The team returns eight starters and has several newcomers that should make an impact this spring.
Last year, the Mountaineers finished with a 16-9 record and lost in the district championship to Pierce City. Four seniors have graduated, including First-Team All-State shortstop Alane Cordray who hit .568 with seven home runs, eight triples, and 11 doubles.
“Alane was a superb leader and one of the best players we have had in the seven years of our program,” said coach Matt Schubert, now in his seventh year leading the program with a record of 103-50. “She is a rare player who truly understood the process of what it takes for the program to be successful. She was a better person than she was a player, and she was a really great player.”
Also gone from last year is Kendra Foulk, an All-District player at pitcher and third base. Foulk was a four-year starter that started at seven different positions throughout her career and batted .449 with 10 doubles, three triples, two homers, and 31 RBIs on the season.
“She was versatile and very steady,” Schubert said. “She was always willing to do what was asked of her, and she had a heart of gold.”
The Mountaineers also graduated Megan Mynatt and Emily Myers.
“Both players were used in reserve roles and were good teammates that provided leadership,” Schubert said.
Fortunately, the Mountaineers return eight starters and 12 total players, which should provide some stability throughout the lineup.
Among those returners are five seniors: centerfielder Lyndsey Hood, left fielder Lauren Herbert, right fielder Cydney Short, first baseman/designated player Micheala McChesney, and outfielder/infielder Madison Schubert.
Hood was a Second-Team All-State pick last year that batted .481 from the leadoff position. Herbert batted .353 with 34 RBIs as the team’s clean-up hitter, while Short played an outstanding defensive right field and only punched out twice in 66 at-bats.
“Lyndsey brings both speed and power to the plate,” Schubert said. “She is a slapper that can tap and run, but she can also put one off the wall. She covers a lot of ground in center and provides quiet leadership by doing things the right way. Lauren is a multi-year starter with some pop at the plate and has a strong arm in left. Cydney is a solid defensive player and a contact hitter at the plate. Micheala is a two-year starter at first base, where she’s a tall target and has a strong arm. Madison will return to the field this spring after missing last season following hip surgery. As a sophomore, she was an All-District outfielder.”
Mount Vernon also welcomes back a strong group of juniors that includes pitcher/utility player Katelyn Kotlarz, third baseman Raegan Prescott, second baseman Raelin Swillum, catcher Harper Looney, and designated player/pitcher/first baseman Kassidy Anderson.
Kotlarz will be the team’s No. 1 pitcher after going 5-2 with 48 strikeouts in 52 innings last spring and batting .439 in the middle of the lineup.
“Katelyn started to develop into a true No. 1 pitcher at the end of last season and is much stronger this year,” Swillum said. “I think she could develop into a dominant starter. She was unable to participate in districts last year after moving from Nebraska, which plays its high school season in the fall. Reagan has improved her physical ability this year by becoming stronger and faster with quality work in our offseason program. Raelin is a sure-handed fielder and has greatly improved as a slapper. Harper returns as our starting catcher, and has gotten stronger which will improve her throwing arm and help her at the plate. Kassidy was the DP most of last year when she wasn’t pitching. She could also see time at first base.”
Mount Vernon also returns sophomore infielder Emilee Smith and sophomore utility player Tasha Collins.
Newcomers to the team include freshman infielder Hadley Cornell.
“Our expectations are the same every year: Put ourselves in a position to be in and win a district championship,” Swillum said. “We have been in five straight, winning two of them. After districts, anything can happen to get you to the final four. Without a conference affiliation, I try to make our schedule as difficult as possible, which will help us when we get to districts. This year’s schedule is no different. I think we have a very good chance to be a team that can make a postseason run.”