By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Webb City softball finished the 2018 campaign with an 18-11-1 record, falling in the district final to Republic.
While the Lady Cardinals were unable to duplicate 2017’s quarterfinal run, head coach Shauna Friend felt her team was able to learn a great deal through adversity.
“Five of our losses were one-run, tough losses,” Friend said. “Our kids gained valuable varsity experience against a tough schedule of opponents.”
Webb City says goodbye to a trio of talented seniors in Quincie Capron, Ali Vanzant and Renea Gillmore.
Gillmore will continue her softball career this fall at Southwest Baptist University.
Despite the losses to graduation, the Lady Cardinals still have plenty of firepower on the roster.
Eight players with varsity experience return, including Kaia Storm (.469 BA, 20 RBI), Haidyn Berry (.460 BA, 3 HR, 27 RBI), Stacy Tyndall (.494 BA, 4 HR, 29 RBI), Karson Culver (.398 BA, 3 HR, 29 RBI), Keira Jackson (.386 BA), Alyssa Jennings (.323 BA), Taylor Harris and Darcy Darnell.
Darnell, a versatile senior capable of playing all nine positions, will miss the season due to injury.
With plenty of experience, power and speed throughout the Webb City lineup, Friend expects big things from her team this season.
“Though we have lost some speed, I feel we have more power throughout the batting lineup,” Friend said. “Also, one of the positives we have going into this year is the amount of varsity experience we have. Last year, most of our players had very limited varsity experience, but this year they should be more confident with the prior experience.”
With a large number of underclassmen in the program, Friend also noted the possibility of several making an impact at the varsity level this season.
“Obviously it is early — we did have a very strong class of freshmen last year — fourteen quality players that will all be back this year as sophomores,” Friend said. “I expect that many will contribute in different roles at the varsity and JV level. It is a fantastic group that will be building the future of our program.”
In the circle, Webb City will once again roll out a deep pitching staff that will be anchored by Berry.
“We have been fortunate in previous years to have a lot of pitching,” Friend said. “We are more limited this year in numbers, but we have Haidyn Berry with a lot of varsity experience. To be successful, she will need to focus on hitting her spots and keeping the hitters off-balance. In addition, we have junior Bayleigh Carrier and sophomore Emalee Lamar. We also have position players Stacy Tyndall and Peyton Hawkins that can throw some innings for us when needed.”
Webb City opens its season at home Sep. 5 against Monett.