By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
After posting only five wins in 2018, Waynesville’s softball program got back on the winning track last season.
The Lady Tigers finished the season 9-9, falling to Lebanon in the district semifinal round.
While Katie Spencer, Megan Pattison, Hannah Kitson, Taylor King and Kansas Warson have all graduated, Waynesville head coach Rochelle Maubach hopes the team’s upward trend continues as she enters her third season at the helm.
“We lost games based on mental mistakes and lack of focus,” Maubach said. “That is one thing we will and have really focused on it sustaining mental toughness and focus. We have a strong team culture excited about 2020; it will be our year to show even more growth.”
A quintet of varsity players return to promote and further develop that culture, including senior pitcher Isabella Pondrom, senior utility Bailey Shultz, senior utility Madi Thompson, junior midfielder/pitcher Callie Zarcone and junior outfielder/infielder Abby Hillman.
Waynesville’s senior class holds a special place with Maubach, as it’s the first one she’s been able to watch and help develop throughout high school.
I am excited about this season,” Maubach said. “I have watched this group of senior athletes for the past four years — I coached against them their ninth grade year and have been blessed to coach them their last three years; they are special.”
Maubach also expects a number of younger players to make an impact at the varsity level this season, including sophomores Hayden Poole (catcher/third base) and Alyssa Hillman (outfield).
With strong leadership and experience on the roster, Maubach believes her team’s overall chemistry will translate to on-field performance this season.
“Our biggest strength is our culture — we are a close group,” Maubach said. “We work hard individually to have success together. And when we are together we give it 110% for each other.”
Maubach believes Pondrom’s continued development and control of the circle will play a key role in the team’s success.
“I have been excited about how our circle will be since we started our open fields,” Maubach said. “Bella is our starting pitcher; she has gotten stronger, she throws harder and has significant movement and spin on the ball which gives her the advantage.”
While Waynesville faces a difficult schedule full of traditional area powers, Maubach welcomes the challenge.
“Every game should be a challenge – we want it that way,” Maubach said. “It’s those challenges that make us stronger. We will need to accept the fact that at times we will fail – And that is okay. We fix it, forget it and move forward.”
After hosting a jamboree Aug. 21 with Washington and Rolla, Waynesville opens its season Aug. 28 at Parkview.