By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Carthage softball posted a 15-15 record last season, falling to Webb City in the district semifinal.
Six graduates move on from the program, including Maddi Adams, Karley Crowe, Kali Godfrey, Taylor Huston, Sydney Peters and Shyann Sturgeon.
Three of the Carthage grads will continue their softball careers this fall — Adams and Crowe at Neosho County Community College, and Godfrey at Northeastern Oklahoma Community College.
The Lady Tigers will be led this fall by another strong senior class including catcher Hallie Patrick (.341 BA, 30 hits), outfielder Averi Heese (.256 BA), infielder Karlee Kinder, pitcher Emily Calhoon, outfielder Aubrey Willis and infielder Jordan Miller.
A pair of sophomore infielders in Natalie Rodriguez and Presley Probert could also challenge for playing time this season as varsity newcomers.
With plenty of veteran experience and leadership, head coach Mike Godfrey has high expectations for his team as it continues to seek the program’s first district title.
“We expect a competitive group that will keep getting stronger through the season,” Godfrey said.
A key reason for Godfrey’s optimism is the return of Calhoun to the circle after missing all of 2018 with a knee injury.
“Pitching should be one of our strengths,” Godfrey said. “We get Emily Calhoon back after knee surgery last year, and she had a strong sophomore season.”
Sophomores Katie Potter and Jensen Elder will provide the Lady Tigers with additional pitching depth.
With Carthage returning most of its interior playmakers on defense (catcher, shortstop and center field), Godfrey believes Calhoun and company will have plenty of support behind them.
Godfrey also believes the biggest challenge his team faces is a number of players will be playing in different spots and will have to develop quickly in the season for the Lady Tigers to be competitive down the stretch.
“This group expects a lot out of themselves and have worked hard to prove something,” Godfrey said.
Carthage opens its season at home Aug. 30 against McDonald County.