2021 Fall Preview: Nevada Softball


By Chris Parker

Nevada softball is in a position to compete for conference and district titles with five all-conference players returning.

Claire Pritchett (senior first base), Bailey Ast (senior shortstop) and Kirsten Buck (junior third base/pitcher) will be team leaders.

“This will be Claire’s fourth year at the varsity level; she brings a ton of experience and softball knowledge to our team. Playing on the infield, she’s locked into every pitch and does a nice job of talking to our pitchers and helping encourage them,” Nevada head coach Danny Penn said. “Everything I said about Claire is true of Bailey as well. She’ll likely hit either one or two in our lineup. She does a nice job of putting good at bats together and has a knack for clutch hits. This will be Kirstin’s third year at the varsity level. All three of the mentioned players bring a ton of softball experience, knowledge, and ability to our team.”

Pritchett hit .500 with 13 doubles, five home runs, 30 RBI and 26 runs scored last year. She was a second-team all-conference selection on the infield. Ast hit .386 with a .450 on-base percentage and 20 runs scored. She was named honorable mention all-conference on the infield. Buck hit .407 with five doubles, 23 RBI and 22 runs scored. She was a first-team all-conference catcher in 2020.


Buck along with freshman Peyton Eaton will handle the pitching duties.

“Kirstin has pitched for us over the past two years, but has primarily played elsewhere on the infield. She does a nice job of changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance,” Penn said. “Peyton is new to our program but has a lot of pitching experience at younger levels. She has a very even demeanor and maintains her composure well in the circle. She has a fastball, rise-ball, and change-up that she has shown an ability to command very well. With both of our primary pitchers, starting ahead in the count will be very important.”

Junior Teresa Dawn and freshman Ella Heathman will compete for time at catcher.

“Teresa caught a few games behind the plate for us last year at the varsity level. As she gained more experience, she showed an ability to adjust to the speed of the varsity level. We look for that progression to continue,” Penn said. “Ella is another new member of our program that will immediately compete for playing time at the varsity level. She does a really nice job receiving behind the plate and has a good arm.”

Pritchett, Buck and Ast will lock down first base, third base and shortstop. Second base is an open competition between Jerica Collins (senior), Caiden Blake (junior) and Caylee Holcomb (freshman).

The outfield will feature Kara Phillips in center. She was a second-team all-conference honoree as a freshman. Fellow sophomore Skyler Burns will look to play a corner outfield spot after she too was named second-team all-conference last season.

Dawn, Blake, Hope Hearting (sophomore), Katie Johnson (sophomore) and Hailey Hearting (freshman) are all in an open competition for an outfield spot.

Seven total starters return and all of them can hit.

“I feel like we will have a strong offensive lineup. We return seven starters from last year’s team, and many of those players had nice seasons last year. We had two freshmen last year (Kara Phillips and Skyler Burns) who had nice years and we look for them to continue progressing as softball players,” Penn said. “Our infield will have at least three starters who have two years of varsity experience. I think the left side of our infield have a chance to be really good both offensively and defensively. We also should have a lot of team speed that will allow us to be aggressive on the bases.”


Solidifying the two open spots in the lineup will be key for Nevada to get rolling.

“We need to try to solidify who our starting second baseman and right fielder are, and hopefully we can do that in the first 10 games of the season or so. We need those players that are a year older than last year to show continued maturity and growth,” Penn said. “We have a number of freshmen who are competing for playing time right away. We hope that they all hit the ground running, but sometimes there is an adjustment period as they are introduced to the speed of the varsity game. The faster and more successfully our young players can become comfortable at the varsity level, the better off we’ll be.”

Nevada will open the season on Aug. 27-28 at the Morrisville Tournament.

“I expect us to be competitive in every game we play; we have the talent and ability to be in every game,” Penn said. “Coach (Mackenzie) Wolfe and I will really lean on our upperclassmen to hold themselves and their teammates to a high standard. I hope that we continue to get better as the season progresses and work to turn areas of weakness into strengths.”


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