By Chris Parker
Ash Grove softball posted its first winning season since moving to spring with a 10-8 record in 2021.
A pair of key seniors return from that team including Maddie Mobley and Emma McClelland.
“Mobley has been a huge part of the Lady Pirate turnaround success since stepping in the circle her freshman year. She also contributed as a stat leader and positive force in competition,” Ash Grove head coach Pam Swift said. “McClelland is an outstanding three-sport athlete that brings athleticism and competitive leadership. She is expected to split time as catcher and in the outfield. Both Mobley and McClelland have been starters since their freshman years.”
Mobley was named honorable mention all-conference as a utility player as a junior.
Sophomore Meagan Hawkins and newcomer junior Jamalyn Atchinson will compete for time in the circle as well. Hawkins, a second-team all-conference honoree, won six games last year with a 2.30 ERA.
McClelland and sophomore Chelsye Graham will compete for time behind the plate at catcher after splitting time there last year. Freshman Marissa Andrus is another candidate for time at catcher.
Andrus hit .385 on her way to second-team all-conference honors last year.
The infield will have experience returning in starting middle sophomore middle infielders Maddie Grube and Ashlyn Gerla. Sophomore Morgan Crow and Atkinson will fill the corner spots on the infield. Grube, a second-team all-conference selection, is a leadoff hitter who led the team in singles and stolen baes. She hit .367 last year. Gerla was an honorable mention all-conference selection.
Andrus and sophomore Madison Lutz return in the outfield.
Sway Kenney (sophomore), Desirae Gilliland (sophomore), Myah Johnson (freshman) and Kaitlyn Stafford (freshman) will also compete for varsity innings.
“We have high expectations for the 2022 season,” Swift said. “To accomplish our team’s goals, teamwork and perseverance will be key. Fitting the pieces of the puzzle together to get the correct combination on the field and in the hitting order should provide more wins this spring. The Lady Pirates start the season with stiff competition in the Sarcoxie and Mt. Vernon tournaments. Spring sports fly by so fast that staying healthy and off season prep should provide keys to success.”
Ash Grove opens the season Mar. 18-19 at the Sarcoxie Tournament.