By Tyler Thompson (ForOzarksSportsZone.com)
Nine Spokane Lady Owls softball players were named to the Class 1 District 9 all-district team one season ago.
Paige Tate, Jordyn Rollings, Hailey Adams, Madison Bonzer, Brook Geiger, Brooke Martin, Shelby Byrne, Halli Boyer-Buschman, and Micayla McClure let their talent be known all over the field.
Adams and Boyer-Buschman have since graduated, but the other aforementioned players return with eyes on a district title this season.
Crane defeated Spokane 8-0 in the district semifinals last year.
This season marks year three at Spokane and year two as the Lady Owls head coach for Marlana Byrne — whose team compiled a 9-11 record last spring.
The Owls graduated two starters off last year’s team and will hit the field with two seniors this season — Byrne (second baseman) and Adrianna Stevens.
Seven returning starters will lead the team this season, Byrne said, so only losing two starters to graduation last year adds another layer to the foundation.
Byrne — who navigated second base last year — will do the same this season.
“Shelby will lead our infield,” said Byrne of the senior.
Byrne smashed a .411 average with 18 RBI last year as a junior.
Pitcher Paige Tate — who recently eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for the Lady Owls basketball team — will return to the circle for coach Byrne.
The junior looks to emulate her basketball success on the diamond once again.
“She did a great job on the field throwing for us and keeping us ahead,” Byrne said of Tate. “She knows that position well.”
Tate went 7-8 last season, which Byrne said will prove to be a valuable tutorial for individual development throughout the spring.
Tate stuck out 63 as a sophomore, and at the plate, she hit .436 with 12 RBI.
Tate was named first team all-district last year.
Also in the junior class is returning all-district player Brook Geiger.
Geiger hit .340 with 35 RBI and nine home runs.
“Brook will be a huge asset to our hitting this year,” Byrne said of Geiger.
Defensively last year, Geiger’s range and athleticism was in full effect as she held court in centerfield.
But Byrne said using Geiger’s versatility will bring about added fluidity this season.
Added Byrne: “She may come up and play some shortstop for us this year.”
Also returning is junior Micayla McClure — who will split time in centerfield and shortstop.
“She will be a huge asset to our defense. She is quick on her feet,” Byrne said of McClure.
For junior catcher Jordan Rollings, she looks to compound her .365 average and 20 RBI this year.
Rollings was named all-district and all-conference last season.
While the Lady Owls have a nice balance throughout the roster, one underclassmen has already made and impression.
Current sophomore first baseman Brooke Martin was named SWCL all-conference honorable mention as a freshman, and she also was named second team all-district after hitting .473 and adding 16 RBI.
Also making all-district as a freshman was right fielder Madison Bonzer — who had one error.
Freshmen Raylen Walace and Malina Stevens — Adrianna’s younger sister — look to fill the two holes left by Adams and Boyer-Buschman.
Boyer-Buschman pitched and utilized her athleticism while playing “just about anywhere on the field,” said Byrne. “She was a big player for us.”