2023 Fall Preview: MCE Softball


By Chris Parker

Marion C. Early softball posted a 26-8 record last season advancing to the program’s 13th final four finishing third place in Class 1.

The Lady Panthers accomplished all of that with just two seniors on the roster. Seven starters return who learned the importance of playing all seven innings on the way to a successful season.

“I think we learned to give 100% for all seven innings of the game,” MCE head coach Mike McHolland said. “We had a lot of one-run games both in wins and losses which helped us in getting to the Final Four.”

First-team all-state pitcher Hailey Presley returns to the circle in her senior year.

“She (Presley) is a very competitive athlete and pitcher, and she wants to face the best teams with the best athletes. She makes it a challenge to be the best pitcher in every game that she pitches,” McHolland said. “I continue to expect a big rise as a pitcher and hitter from her in her senior season. She has a good positive attitude and is always encouraging her teammates at practices and games. She will be the leader of our team.”

Presley threw 188 innings with 265 strikeouts and a 1.45 ERA. At the plate, Presley hit .546 with eight home runs 44 runs and 63 RBI.

Maggie Painter also earned first-team all-state honors in the outfield.

“She reads the ball off the bat really well and has great range in centerfield. She has great speed as an outfielder and is the glue of our outfield,” McHolland said. “She is a very disciplined hitter, doesn’t chase a lot of balls out of the strike zone. She gets a good quality at bat every time she goes to the plate.”

Painter hit .454 with 26 RBI and 44 runs scored.

Taylor Blehm returns behind the plate at catcher. Addie Bess (junior first base), Raycie Maggard (sophomore second base), Ireland Foster (freshman second base), Macie Letterman (junior shortstop), Haley Madewell (sophomore third base) and Presley (third base) are all in the mix for time on the infield. Madewell will also see time at pitcher.


Blehm hit .264 with 22 runs and 19 RBI last season. Bess returns with a .320 batting average, 28 RBI and 20 runs scored. Letterman drove in 20 runs and scored 17 more with a .312 batting average. Madewell posted a .284 batting average with 16 runs scored and 18 RBI.

Painter will be joined in the outfield by Miya Bess (junior), Charissa White (sophomore), Raycie Maggard (sophomore) and Ireland Foster (freshman).

Bess scored 20 runs and drove in 28 with a .320 batting average last year.

McHolland thinks several of MCE’s players are poised for breakout seasons.

“Taylor Blehm, Macie Letterman, Addie Bess, Miya Bess and Haley Madewell could all have breakout seasons,” McHolland said. “Taylor Blehm has experience behind the plate and has power at the plate. Macie Letterman came on strong late in the year both as a hitter and good sound defense at second base. Addie Bess is solid at first base and her batting is getting stronger each year. Miya Bess is a very good defensive player in right field with a lot of range. Haley Madewell is very dependable at third base and in the circle and is another player that gets good quality at bats.”

MCE will travel to Glendale on Aug. 18 for a jamboree with the host Falcons, Neosho and Willard. The Lady Panthers open the regular season Aug. 25-26 at their home tournament.

“Our three main goals every year are No. 1 final four berth, No. 2 win district and No. 3 improve from game to game as a team and as a player,” McHolland said. “With seven starters returning from last season, hopefully we can achieve those goals again for the Lady Panther softball program.”

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