Purdy brings experience
Lady Eagles softball excited to be playing
Many athletics programs this year are suffering from a lack of experience after the cancellation of spring sports in 2020 — not Purdy softball.
The Lady Eagles’ season kicked off on Friday against Pleasant Hope at home with a 10-0 victory, and they played on Monday and Tuesday in the Mt. Vernon Tournament.
Lori Videmschek, Purdy softball coach, said the seven seniors returning this year, six of whom have varsity experience, are glad to be back on the diamond this season.
“The kids are excited to get the season started after we were cut short last year,” she said. “That was tough not being able to go for conference and district titles and make a run at state, because we had a good team. But, we have a good team again this year, and we’re having a lot of fun and are excited about playing some softball.”
Videmschek said the senior-loaded team is strong in multiple areas, especially pitching and hitting.
“Lauren Schallert is our returning pitcher and I’m expecting a tremendous year from her on the mound and at the plate,” Videmschek said. “She throws the ball really well and hits in the three-hole, and she’s good at the plate. Bayleigh Robbins is our shortstop and is one of the best in the state there. She’s our four-hole hitter and hit a grand slam in our jamboree [last week].”
Videmschek said Kinsley Mattingly is a utility player for the Lady Eagles who starts in left field and is the lead-off hitter.
“We expect her to get on base when she hits, whatever it takes,” Videmschek said. “Annabelle Bowman transferred in and played her sophomore year and has been outstanding. She’s at second base and is expected to step up as a leader, and she hits the ball well.”
McKenna Orwig starts at right field and has for a couple years.
“She has a lot of tools and she hit really well at the jamboree, so she’s expected to do great things,” Videmschek said. “She hits in the nine-hole and is a good outfielder that is really fast.”
In a designated player role and at playing backup at third base is Jaclin Fenski, who will hit second and see field time when starting third baseman Hadley Hughes is called to the mound.
“Junior Robyn Schad plays first base, hits is in the five-hole and is a big RBI person for us,” Videmschek said. “She has tremendous power and can pitch, as well. Dally Craig is another junior and our catcher. She hits seventh or eighth and does a great job receiving the ball from our pitchers. She had a tough freshman year after breaking her ankle, so we’re excited to see what she can do behind the plate.”
Freshmen round out the Lady Eagles’ varsity squad, with Jessi Hopped starting in center field.
“Jessi is so exciting to watch,” Videmschek said. “She is quick, and if there is a ball in the air in the outfield, she’s going to catch it. She also hits with power but can bunt well, too.”
Hughes is also a freshman, starting at third base and working in the pitching rotation. Two other freshmen, Rylee Stanford and Raeley Henderson, are also likely to get some varsity time in a pinch hitter or pinch runner role.
“We want them to get some varsity experience, and we’re excited to see how they handle that,” Videmschek said.
Jasmine Holloway and Faith Corsia add more depth to the team, which Videmschek said is a big strength.
“We are 10-deep, so we hope to stay healthy,” she said. “If we can do that, we have a good shot to win the conference and district, although we won’t know our district placement until the end of March.”
If the jamboree last week is any indication, Purdy will rack up some runs this season. The Lady Eagles blew by Clever, Pierce City and Exeter, scoring 9 runs in each shortened game and allowing only 2.
“We hit the ball really well and ran the bases well,” Videmschek said. “Outside of one miscue defensively, we did good there, too, getting our ground balls and making the routine plays. At the plate, we were driving balls to the fence, which is exciting.”
Videmschek said though things look good early, the team is not getting ahead of itself.
“We will take it one game at a time because you never know if your season will be cut short,” she said. “We hope to get a full season in, and to make it a good one.”
Videmschek said part of the reason she thinks the team will find success is experience gained in the summer of 2020.
“We got in as many games as we could so we didn’t lose anything,” she said. “We played about 22 games in June and July, including doubleheaders in Monett and Sarcoxie, and we played up against some Big 8 schools, as well.”
Videmschek said if there’s one area the Lady Eagles need improvement, it’s in situational hitting.
“We need to improve there because I could see us getting anxious, especially with runners on,” she said. “If we get better at putting our hits in the right place during the year, we will be a much better team. After about 10 games, we will see where we need to improve. I just tell the girls to have fun, play hard and don’t let anyone outwork you.”
The Lady Eagles defeated Pleasant Hope on Friday, 10-0. They are playing in the Mt. Vernon Tournament this week. On Monday, they topped East Newton, 2-1, Strafford, 8-2, and Sarcoxie, 14-0. They play again on Thursday, with the time and opponent not available as of presstime.