By Amanda Perkins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
With new head coach Ryan Bunch at the helm of Willow Springs softball, the Lady Bears claimed the championship last year in Class 2 District 11. They ended their season 22-4, falling to Warsaw in the state playoffs.
The Lady Bears graduated a core of decorated players, including all-state pitching and catching, power hitting tandem Sydney Miller and Emily Fair. Centerfielder Krysta Rader provided speed and power to the lineup and outfielder Alexa Fredrick hit at a .340 clip. Bella Melvin was a strong defender at first base and hit .301 in the middle of the lineup.
But the returning crew is packed with talent and experience, starting with the senior class. All-district and all-region third baseman Courtney Melvin returns to the field, and hit .427 with 5 home runs and 23 RBIs last year. Classmate Emily Scarbrough hit .250 and played a solid second base, and will move to first base this season. Cadee Rothermich hit .258 and is primed to take over at second base. She has worked to improve her hitting over the summer and has a good glove. Rounding out the senior class is Reagan Brook, who picked up 13 RBIs last year. “Reagan does a good job of doing the little things that don’t show up in the box score, like moving runners over,” said Coach Bunch.
Junior outfielder Madison McDaniel has speed on the bases and a strong work ethic and could win a starting spot in the outfield. Kassi Smith will take over catching duties. The hard-working junior has been improving behind the plate in the offseason.
Sophomore Chloe Chafin is a skilled defensive shortstop with a dangerous arm, and also drove in 12 runs at the plate last season.
Riley Scarbrough, freshman, will be the new ace in the circle. “Riley has a lot of speed and will hit at the top of the lineup,” said Coach Bunch. Classmate Georgia Osborn will man center field. “Georgia does a nice job reading balls off the bat and going and getting them,” he said.
Coach Bunch said his team’s speed is their real strength now. “I think we do a good job on the bases, taking the extra base, going from first to third and stealing bases,” he said.
“Our goals don’t change much from year to year,” he added. “We always want to work hard to get better each and every day so that we are playing our best softball when districts roll around. We want to compete for a district title.”
The Lady Bears open their season Aug. 27 at Seymour.