Posted: Wednesday, 07 August 2013 5:59PM

Walnut Grove softball poised to make run at state title

Walnut Grove, Mo. (  -- The Walnut Grove Lady Tigers, who reached the Class 1 quarterfinals in 2012, step to the plate this season with few changes to the lineup. The cohesive and dominant team will be adjusting to new leadership, however, with Jeff Dishman replacing Terry Rumfelt as head coach.

Dishman comes to Walnut Grove after a two-year stint as girls’ softball coach at Marionville, where he posted a record of 40-15. Dishman will also serve as assistant coach for boys’ basketball.

Walnut Grove beat Weaubleau in its district final and Billings in the sectional round last year. They finished the season 14-7 overall after a quarterfinals loss to Naylor in the Class 1 State Tournament.

With the loss of only one graduating player, the team returns intact, and they intend to make another run at a state championship.

“That is their unfinished business. They all have said that they want to make a run at winning state,” said Dishman.

Karsyn Hejna (sr.) returns as pitcher, having earned second team all-state honors, as well as a nomination for “Best Softball Player” on the Ozarks Sports Zone 1 Awards. Hejna batted .514 with 10 home runs, 27 RBI and 24 stolen bases in the 2012 season. As a pitcher, she was 16-9 with 148 strikeouts.

Dishman looks forward to another outstanding year from Hejna.

“Karsyn is a very athletic young lady. She can hit, she can run, she can pitch. We look for big things from her,” said Dishman.

Also starting are Miranda Allison (sr.), shortstop; Audree Crain (jr.) infielder; Madisyn Freeze (sr.), catcher; Heather Harman (sr.), center field; Lexi Harman (sr.) 2nd base; and Shelby Harman (so.).

The Lady Tigers have a newcomer who could be a game changer: freshman Raylie Hejna. Karsyn’s little sister stands 6’1” and according to Dishman, she can hit.

Miranda Allison, Audree Crain, and Madisyn Freeze earned 2012 Class 1 District 4 all-district honors, 1st team. Heather Harman, Lexi Harman, and Brea Kirby (grad.) earned 2nd team honors.

Dishman looks forward to coaching an already well-grounded team.

“These players are mentally tough and physically tough,” said Dishman.

The Lady Tigers’ season begins in Fair Grove on August 29.

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