This year’s Lady Eagles softball team enters the upcoming season with a roster of 17 players that includes one senior, multiple experienced returning juniors and sophomores, and one incoming freshmen.
Four-year team member and lone senior Faith Brown will provide leadership with three years of starting experience under her belt as a core of returning sophomore and junior players looks to mix things up on the diamond this season.
The upcoming season will be marked by a change of venue for home games. After over 10 years of calling Field 2 at Stub Memorial Complex home, the Lady Eagles softball team has its own nest to call home on the newly remodeled Holden baseball/softball field. The baseball/softball field remodel project includes the installation of all-weather turf, among other improvements at the field located behind the Holden R-3 High School building.
“This year, our goal is to be scrappy,” says Holden softball head coach Jeff Smith. “We have an overall fast team and each person has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Another goal is for each team member to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so that we can play together as a strong unit. We want to make other teams uncomfortable by our quickness and style of play.”
The Lady Eagles softball team is coming off of last season when the team posted an overall record of 21-10, and ended the conference season as MRVC-East Co-Champions.
Brown takes over the senior leadership role this season after the departure of a large class of seniors from last year’s team due to graduation. That graduated class of players includes Alli Iles, Camille Davidson, Riley Naumann, Marah Klover, Tasia Lee, Gabby Gard, Kameryn Rehfeldt, Kimmie Spring, and Maddie Sechrest.
“Going 9-1 in conference and being co-conference champions was definitely a highlight from last season,” says coach Smith. “One of the best highlights from last season was to see how many of our seniors went on to play at the next level. Maddie Sechrest signed with Lincoln University, Camille Davidson to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, and Kimmie Spring to UMKC. The best reward for a coach is to see athletes using their sport to continue their education.”
Klover also moved up to the collegiate level in sports after receiving a scholarship from the University of Central Missouri to compete in track and field.
The departure of Davidson in the catcher spot, Sechrest on the pitching mound and at second base, Spring at shortstop, and Klover in center field noticeably leaves a void to be filled in the middle of the diamond as all four players served as four-year starters.
“Kimmie held down short for the last four years,” says coach Smith. “Camille spent most of her high school career behind the plate. Marah held down center field for her entire career and maintained an over .400 batting average for the last three seasons while receiving all-state honors in all three of those seasons. Maddie was a starting pitcher for four years at the varsity level and had under a 3.00 ERA for all three years that I have been a part of the program.
“Kameryn supplied our team with a great bat over the course of her career, and some huge hits in big situations,” adds coach Smith. “Tasia, Gabby, Riley, and Alli all played multiple utility roles throughout their careers at Holden, both offensively and defensively.”
This year’s roster of 17 players contains multiple key returners from last season ready to fill the empty spots vacated by last year’s seniors.
Brown carriers three years of varsity level starting experience into her senior season.
“Faith is our lone senior this year,” confirms coach Smith. “She has started since her freshman year and provides that experience to be a great leader so far. She knew being the only senior that she would have to step up to that leadership position and has not disappointed. Her teammates just voted her unanimously as one of our team leaders.”
Brown looks to fill a familiar role by providing solid defense in right field. She also has filled the catcher spot on occasion throughout her career.
The junior class players on this year’s team include Lilly Bay, Lilee Keller, Jenna McHenry, and Abby Sisk.
Sophomores on this year’s team include Haley Brooks, Jazzy Brown, Adalyn Campbell, Bobbie Diibon, Clara Ferguson, Macey Greene, Annalissa Ray, Drew Turner, Addilyn Wooster, Olivia Wooster, and Adasyn Yoder.
The lone incoming freshman to this year’s team is Alyssa Agcopra.
Helping coach Smith sift through the talent on this year’s team are returning assistant coach Tonya Mallinson and returning volunteer assistant Andrew Hyatt.
From the list of players above, multiple players are stepping up to fill the team’s defensive needs, including the gaps left by the departure of Davidson, Spring, Sechrest, and Klover. Experience gained last season by the underclassmen looks to ease the transition into this year’s softball campaign.
“If you were to pick four positions to lose players from, those would definitely be the most crucial to lose,” says coach Smith. “However, we were lucky enough to have a very talented group of young athletes join the program last year that I was able to place into some of those roles at different times in order to prepare them.
“Addy Campbell who was injured last year has proven to be a very talented shortstop over the short time that I have been able to see her play,” notes coach Smith. “She will be able to take over Kimmie’s role very well.
“Jazzy Brown has already proven to be an excellent pitcher and outfielder to take over Marah and Maddie’s roles at different times. Lilee Keller, Abby Sisk, and Olivia Wooster will also be able to help out significantly at the pitcher role.
“Macey Greene has moved to the outfield and her speed allows her to cover a ton of ground in center and left,” highlights coach Smith. “Ady Wooster and Lilly Bay have both shown the ability to play a quality second base. Also, Haley Brooks showed her toughness last season as she received multiple opportunities behind the plate behind Camille last season and looks prepared to take over this year.”
Diibon’s name also appears on coach Smith’s preseason depth chart as a potential third baseman.
Coach Smith looks for a mix of big performances from this year’s pitching staff, solid hitting, and defensive play to spark the team this season.
“Jazzy Brown and Lilee Keller with their pitching and bats can be game changers this season,” predicts coach Smith. “Abby Sisk had an amazing season at the plate last year, and we hope to have more of the same form her this year.
“Addy Campbell has been great defensively at shortstop with a great bat and phenomenal speed. Faith of course, has the ability to play both outfield and catch. She provides amazing arm strength and a great bat that we look to get going from game one.”
With a somewhat extensive overhaul from last year’s senior-laden team to this year’s squad which boasts one heavily experienced senior and multiple talented underclassmen, coach Smith is excited for the new opportunities on the horizon of the upcoming season.
“The most exciting thing about this season is all of the new faces in new positions and getting them to gel together to play quality softball,” says coach Smith. “It will be a fun challenge that we are all looking forward to. Fans can expect another fun, competitive season on a brand new field. Come out and see the new complex and enjoy some quality high school softball!”
Game one of the season for the Lady Eagles is set to take place in the Greater Kansas City Tournament with a pool play game against Park Hill at Adair Park in Independence on Friday, August 25. Game time is 10:45 a.m. Pool paly continues on Friday with a GKCT pool play game against Belton at 2:15 p.m. Bracket games in the GKCT will be played Saturday, August 26 with game times to be determined.
The Lady Eagles softball team plays its first home game on its new field on Thursday, August 31 when the Pleasant Hill Chicks come to town for a 5 p.m. varsity contest and a 6:30 JV game.