By Greg Morse (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Hollister coach Willy Morgan is expecting a strong season out of his Hollister Lady Tiger softball team after falling to eventual state champion Strafford in the district semifinals last season.
“Our biggest improvement is our team depth. We have around 25 players, fifteen of which could end up being one of our Varsity starters,” said Morgan, “This will cause inner competition that should make us stronger.”
Among those players are seniors Kalee Bekemeier, Mackie Green, Maddy Frenzel, Beca Clarida, Reina Dodge, Ella Hymes, Lexi Brayfield, and McKenna Newell. Juniors Rachael Sutton and Drew Henderson round out the upperclassmen for the Lady Tigers softball team.
One of those seniors, Ella Hymes, as well as sophomore Kendrick “Bug” Bailey are both transfers that Coach Morgan thinks will make an immediate impact on the team. That’s because Hymes was first-team all-district and Second-Team All Mid-Lakes infielder last year at Fair Grove, and Bailey was an Arkansas All-State Selection Pitcher/Infield out of Omaha, Ark.
Both players join a team that already consisted of several stars including first-team all-district infielder Maddy Frenzel, second-team all-district catcher Kalee Bekemeir, and second-team all-district infielder Mackie Green. The additions will help make up for the loss of three starters from last year.
“We lost three great senior starters from last year, pitcher KK Thomas, first baseman Raven Ross, and second baseman Macy Wright. But we had a fabulous summer of softball and great off-season workouts leading up to this spring. We have several young girls who have worked hard to earn a varsity spot and with the addition of Ella and ‘Bug’, the inner competition will push the girls to work hard every day and have an ‘earn everything’ mentality,” said Morgan.
Morgan also believes that the abundance of seniors and returners will be a strong suit for his team, pointing to the importance of senior leadership and work ethic. He thinks that each position will have to be fought for more so than any other in year in the six years he has coached the team.
Having so many solid players also brings the challenge of being able to find the right nine girls represent the varsity team every night. Morgan doesn’t believe this will be a problem.
“I think we can be district contenders if we can quickly develop our team chemistry and take pride in doing the little things. Our raw talent and softball I.Q. should take care of the rest.”
Those little things include communication, throwing strikes, making routine plays and putting the ball in play.
“I’ve never been so excited for a season to get here. I’m with this amazing group of girls every day in the weight room and I’ve had to patiently wait for the season to get here,” Morgan said.
Other players to watch for the Lady Tigers include sophomores Jacie Bradley, Chloe Hirsch, Alexia Wynia, Kerrstin Haberman, Lucy Blackwood, Lexie Mismer, Daniella Richardson. Representing the freshmen are Shy Frenzel, Mady Pyatt, Josi Smith, Jackie Pyatt, Brianna Smith, and Gabby Franciskovich.