Lady Eagle Softball Team Looks To Rebuild In 2015
For the past several years, the Lady Blue Eagles have had one foot in the door to get to the state tournament. Last season for Magnolia the door opened wide and the Lady Blue advanced to placing third in Class-A.
And, after losing graduates Mallory Chapman, Stevie Mullett, Jordan Grimm, Ashley Moore and Erinn and Emily Clegg, it might be sometime before Magnolia can make it to the dance again.
However, second-year Head Coach Dillon Mangino still has a few returning starters that, with a little added help, the Lady Eagles may return to state-level competition. But, it will not be easy.
Audrey Gibb returns as the starting catcher, while Abby Durig returns at shortstop when she isn’t pitching. Davianne Croasmun will hold down third base, while Kasey Hilpert is at second and Katie Blatt will be at first.
Gibb played extremely well behind the plate defensively, while being one of the Eagles’ key hitters a season ago. She has a shotgun arm and teams will think twice before trying to move up a base. Durig was solid at shortstop and moved baserunners around by always getting the bat on the ball. She will also see some action on the hill with the loss of Chapman and the Clegg sisters.
Croasmun will continue to hold down the hot corner for the Eagles. She has one of the quickest catch-and-throws in girls’ softball and it will be hard to get one by her. She also gets the bat on the ball and rarely struck out to give Mangino a solid stick that he can rely on.
Blatt is in her third season as the starting first basemen and has come a long way, defensively, although she hasn’t had that many plate appearances. If Blatt can get comfortable at the plate and can continue to put good wood on the ball, the Lady Eagles could have four solid batters to give Magnolia a chance to get runs.
The biggest key for Mangino and the Lady Eagles will be finding someone that can keep During at shortstop and not on the rubber. They will use the talented Tylar Seckman as soon as she is healed from knee surgery during the basketball season.
Seckman threw some JV games and did quite well. She has thrown the summer ball, but hasn’t had the experience of taking the mound every night. If she can get herself some innings of work on the mound, and continue to improve, the Eagles could well surprise a lot of teams.
“We have some good student athletes that we can put anywhere on the field, and get good production,” said Mangino. “We need to be more selective at the plate. Instead of taking bad pitches, we need to work the count and put the bat on the ball. We want to be aggressive, but not overly aggressive at the plate as well as on the bases.”
Besides these players, Magnolia has an abundance of girls who want to contribute. Starting with return sophomores Taylor Cline and Emily Shank. Cline will back up Hilpert, while Shank looks to play some at shortstop, as will freshman Logan Riggs.
Other freshmen ready to break into the lineup include Lauren Anderson. Alexander Berger, Alevia Anderson, Kenna Petin, Katie Herrick, and Mackenzie Ash.
After losing its entire outfield, Magnolia will need for the freshmen girls to grow up in a hurry if they want to compete day in and day out. Herrick will be used as a utility player who can play any outfield and infield positions, as well as give Gibb a breather behind the plate.
Magnolia has been working hard on the basics, practicing indoors for most of the pre-season so far. With only four seniors and one junior out for softball, the younger girls will need to step it up in a hurry.
Magnolia has benefited by outstanding pitching and timely hitting in the past, and this season the girls are going to have to score some runs if they want to win some games.
They might not see Seckman until late in the season, depending on how quick her recovery is. The team will need for Durig to pitch a bunch of innings, but is hoping that Riggs can learn on the fly and help in that position, as well.
But, the biggest question mark is not having an outfielder with some experience. And, with only a few practices outside, you won’t know what you got until they start playing some games.
Weather permitting, Magnolia will open against Paden City at home March 24 at 5 p.m. and Ritchie County, on March 25, Madonna, on March 26, and Tyler Consolidated on March 27.