The Lady Wildcat softball team started the 2011 season strong with an 11-1 victory over visiting Wheaton on Monday.
Ben Abramovitz's squad features six full-time returning starters from last year's team. Helping to lead the team with their varsity experience will be: senior third baseman Cari Vollenweider; senior shortstop Kennadi Howard; senior first baseman and pitcher Jaime Everett; junior pitcher Emily Speakman; sophomore left fielder Katelyn Pitts; and senior catcher Kelsey Vollenweider. Junior Paighton Brock, who was a designated hitter last year, will be among the starters, handling second base duties.
Other members of the roster include: senior Calisia Brookes; juniors Kelsey Baker, Skyler Branham and Taylor Wolf; sophomore Callie Woolhiser; and freshmen Jade Holloway, Raeghan Blisard, Jayce Fink, Trisha Jones and Brooke Fields.
When asked to list players who he considers as top prospects, Abramovitz said he would have to name the entire team.
"We have so many kids right now that are stepping up, and I feel like they are going to be extremely effective on the field and at the plate," said Abramovitz, who is assisted by Randy Robertson. "Each of these kids on the entire roster from the youngest to the oldest will contribute to this team's success this year."
When it comes to success, the Lady Wildcats are focused on the team approach rather then individual accomplishments.
|"Again, standout players are hard to single out," said Abramovitz. "This will be a very versatile group. In other words, you may see kids coming off the bend to put hits in here and there and speed coming off the bench to follow a good hit."|
Cassville will have good team speed this year, which should create scoring opportunities. Hitting is also expected to be a strength this season.
"I've spent a lot of time on the offensive game the last few years, and I think with this group of kids we may see the first true sign of change at the plate," Abramovitz said.
After finishing the 2010 season with a winning 14-13 record, Abramovitz hopes to pull some digits from the loss column and put them in the win column.
The Big 8 Conference should be tough again this season, and the district tournament is essentially a repeat of conference play.
"I feel like we can be competitive with any team in the conference, and as always, look to make a run for the top spot," said Abramovitz.
The addition of a middle school softball program has helped the high school softball team's numbers. There are five freshman on the roster this season, an increase of four over last year. Abramovitz expects those numbers to double next year.
"I cannot express enough gratitude for the opportunity that allowed us to begin that program," said Abramovitz. "It has already shown so much payoff, and we're only in year one. 'Thank you' to this community and district for giving us these opportunities."
The Lady Wildcats compete in the Crowder Tournament Aug. 25 through Aug. 27 and then host Lamar on Aug. 30 and Monett on Sept. 1.