By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Following back-to-back losing seasons, Camdenton softball was able to turn things around in 2021.
The Lakers posted a 13-13 record, falling to Marshfield in the district opening round.
Head coach Tyler Dinsdale, entering his fifth season at the helm, believes his program is more than ready to take the next step heading into the fall campaign.
“Last year we finished 13-13, which was an improvement from the last two years,” Dinsdale said. “We had a young team that only started four to five upperclassmen each game.”
A talented quartet of graduates departed the program to continue their respective softball careers at the collegiate level in Adelyn Enos (Moberly Area Community College), Jocelyn Wolf (State Fair Community College), Felicity Kirby (Westminster College) and Mackenzie Daniels (Jefferson College).
The Lakers do return seven letter winners from last season, including all-conference junior outfielder Zoe Lockhart, all-district junior infielder Addy Clay, all-conference sophomore pitcher Cayden Vonsande, senior outfielder Ryah Moore, junior outfielder Jaimee Hendrix, sophomore pitcher/infielder Anna Lucas, sophomore Rylee Meyer and sophomore infielder Dakota Hawksley.
In addition to its returning players, Camdenton will also welcome a talented group of varsity newcomers to the roster.
“We will have quite a few youngsters playing major roles this year,” Dinsdale said. “We will rely heavily on underclassmen this year with many incoming freshmen contributing heavily.
Freshman Kodi Stidham, junior Madison Crocker and sophomore Peyton Baker will all compete for playing time this season, along with freshmen Ellie Moore, Addy Baker, Ava Vogeler and Mckenna Shear.
While Camdenton’s roster might appear to be relatively young and inexperienced at first glance, Dinsdale is confident in his team’s ability to compete this season.
“We have a very young team with only one senior, but that will not lower our expectations,” Dinsdale said. “We expect to be one of the top teams in the Ozark Conference and contend for a district championship. We have built up our expectations for this team and they are extremely high this year.”
In the circle, the Lakers will look to Vonsande to anchor the staff and help limit opportunities for opposing hitters.
“Cayden Vonsande and Anna Lucas pitched really well last year when called upon,” Dinsdale said. “These two have the ability to pitch at a very high level and will keep us in a lot of games. We will also have Rylee Meyer and Ellie Moore who will help out in the circle.”
At the plate, Dinsdale expects Camdenton’s versatility, athleticism and overall speed to play big roles in what should be a dynamic offense.
“Our lineup will score a lot of runs,” Dinsdale said. “We have a lot of experience and girls that can swing the bat. We also have a lot of girls who can run really well, so we will work to manufacture runs.”
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In the field, Dinsdale also has high expectations and believes his group will provide plenty of defensive highlights for the Lakers this season if players are able to quickly adjust to new roles and responsibilities.
“Our outfield will be one of the best overall outfields that we have had at one time with Zoe Lockhart, Ryah Moore and Jaimee Hendrix out there,” Dinsdale said. “Our biggest X-factor will be how well our players respond to the different roles they will be playing this year. We are going to be asking a lot of girls to be playing positions that they may not prefer, so how well they respond will dictate how well we do this season.”
Camdenton opens its season Aug. 26 in the Morrisville Tournament.