Posted: Tuesday, 20 August 2013 5:16PM

Young Marshfield softball team looks to take next step

Marshfield, Mo. (For  -- With all but one starter back from a young team that finished last season with an 8-16 record, the Marshfield Lady Jays softball team hopes their experience can turn their record around this season.

Last season could be seen as a rebuilding year for the Lady Jays. Losing seven starters to graduation and a new coaching staff, second-year head coach Jessica Gorham hopes to see her teams’ experience improve in a big way this season.

“Last year’s team was comprised mostly of rookies and freshmen with minimal playing experience,” said Gorham.

Returning for the Lady Jays are seniors Kylee Murgel and Miranda Keenan, and juniors Sydney Adams, Lexi Hume, Tristan Crafton, Belle Johnson, and Ashley Clair. Sophomore Paige Taylor is also returning for Marshfield.

All-District first team selectionsMurgel and Keenan will be called upon to be the leaders for the Lady Jays. Murgel led the team in all offensive categories last season, while Keenan finished with a .371 batting average, but Gorham knows they are more important to the team than just their offense.

“Kylee has an excellent work ethic and provides a good example for her teammates to follow,” Gorham said. “Miranda provides the team with another good leader, both on and off the field.”

Along with their senior leaders, the Lady Jays are also counting on all-conference second team selection Paige Taylor, Tristan Grafton, and freshman Shelby Choate.

Taylor returns to the mound after pitching nearly every game as a freshman last year, while Crafton hopes to build upon her .456 batting average last season.

Gorham also hopes that Shelby Choate can come on big, even as a freshman.

“Shelby is a newcomer that will add a lot of strength to the batting lineup, as well as provide some solid defense on the infield,” said Gorham.

Last season Marshfield’s offense struggled to score runs, but Gorham expects that will not be the case this year.

“[The team’s strengths are] commitment and team chemistry,” said Gorham. “I also believe our offense has gotten stronger and our lineup will be capable of producing runs.”

Overall, Gorham could not be more ready to begin her second season at Marshfield and has high hopes for her team.

“The improvements made last season from beginning to end leave me very hopeful for what the girls are capable of accomplishing this season,” Gorham said. “One year stronger, one year wiser, one year more mature, and one year better!”

The Lady Jays open the season at home against the Hillcrest Hornets on Aug. 29.

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