By Chris Parker
Waynesville softball will look to get back to double-digit wins this season after last year’s five-win season snapped a streak of six consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins.
“To get back to double-digit wins we have to be consistent in the circle,” Waynesville Head Coach Rochelle Maubach said. “We have to get ahead and stay ahead of the batter, not give up bases. Defensively we have to think ahead. We have to be offensively sound and execute bunts and dominate the base paths.”
The Lady Tigers will have to replace a program great in reigning Ozark Conference Player of the Year Afatia Poinsette.
“We will definitely miss ‘Tia’ offensively and defensively, but most of all we will miss her ability to lead on the field. She was a player who teammates wanted to play with; playing on the same field as her made (her teammates) want to be better athletes. They wanted to try harder,” Maubach said.
Callie Zarcone and Abby Hillman both return after earning all-conference honors as freshmen last year. Zarcone could see some time in the circle at pitcher and in the outfield. Hillman will be on the infield.
“I have high expectations for both these athletes,” Maubach said. “I expect big plays, big hits, and a big number of stolen bases.”
Junior Isabella Pondrom will be the primary pitcher for Waynesville. Zarcone will also see time in the circle. Maubach has strong relief options in seniors Taylor King and Katie Spencer along with junior Kailyn Krantz.
The infield will be comprised of a combination of King, Krantz, Hillman, Mea Williams (junior), Bailey Shultz (junior), Hannah Kitson (senior), and Madi Thompson (junior).
Hillman, Spencer, Megan Pattison and Oasia Goodall are all candidates to see time in the outfield.
Spencer, Kitson, Shultz, Pondrom and Pattison have all had especially strong offseasons according to Maubach.
That group will lead a tight-knit team.
“Our biggest strength is our team culture,” Maubach said. “We are one team with one dream. They are close to each other on and off the field.”
Effort will be the key factor in determining if this year’s Waynesville softball team can climb back above .500.
“Our team culture is to give 110-percent, to show hard work, passion, fire and grit in every practice and game. When our expectations are met we will have a season above .500,” Maubach said.
Waynesville opens the season on Aug. 31 at Nixa.