Lady Eagles dealing with unfinished business
Purdy softball team driven to reach the Final Four this season
The Purdy girls softball team is not messing around this season.
The memory of watching Stockton upset the Lady Eagles in Purdy in last year's quarterfinal is still fresh on the minds of the coaches and players.
Purdy went 23-4 last season, and 8-0 in Ozark 7 Conference play. The Black and Gold return eight starters from that team this year.
"Our defense is very strong," said Lori Videmschek, Purdy coach. "Basically, we have the same kids back, and we only committed 39 errors last year. Our pitchers will do their jobs on the mound, and defensively, if we stick to the fundamentals and work hard, our defense can be very good. Hard work is the key."
The Lady Eagles are much more than just talk this season. On Monday, Purdy opened the season with a triple-header sweep of Billings, Spokane and Forsyth. It was not surprising that the talent-rich Barry County squad won, but it was a surprise the manner in which they dominated the opponents.
Purdy defeated Billings 17-1, topped Spokane 17-0 and defeated Forsyth 11-1. In their first two games, Videmschek had to instruct her baserunners to leave the bag early to secure automatic outs to end the inning and move the game along.
"Expectations are set high this year, after losing to Stockton last year in the quarterfinal game," Videmschek said. "Our kids are excited about this year's team. We need to stay focused, be disciplined, work hard and get better each and every game.
"I expect us to have a great year. I have a great group of kids to coach and am very lucky to be able to coach them."
Returning for the Lady Eagles this season are: Breanna Keeler and Andrea Humphrey, seniors; Rion Boyd, Morgan Schilly and Sami House, juniors; and Casey Ellison, Zoe Brown and Hallie Henderson, sophomores.
Keeler had a 1.84 ERA last season with 105 strikeouts and hit .449 with 42 RBI. Her coach expects those numbers to improve this season.
Humphrey returns to first base again this season.
"Andrea is one of our leaders," Videmschek said. "If she can continue to get better at the plate, she will have a great season."
Boyd patrolled center field last season. At the plate, Boyd hit .487 with 34 RBI. Purdy coaches expect nothing less from her this season.
Schilly is described by her coach as the team's fire plug.
"Quickness is her key," Videmschek said. "She gets on base and her speed causes problems for a lot of teams."
House has been asked to switch positions this season from left field to short stop. Last season, House hit .425 with 29 RBI.
"Sami has great hands and footwork around the bases," Videmschek said. "I expect her to have a great year at short stop."
Ellison handles the signal calling responsibilities for Purdy.
"Casey has been working hard in the off season on her hitting," Videmschek said. "I expect her to have a great year behind the plate and at the plate."
Henderson had a stellar season as a freshman. She hit .436 with 27 RBI. In the pitcher's circle, she finished with a 1.25 ERA and 71 strikeouts. Purdy hopes she can repeat those numbers this season.
Purdy returns to action on Thursday in Mt. Vernon. The opponent was yet to be determined at press time. However, first pitch is set for 5:45 p.m.