By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
The Lady Rams softball team entered a critical week prior to their opening season tournament at Fairfield.
Most of the starting positions across the diamond are still being determined, Mt. Vernon coach Lance Boldt said.
“If girls can play solid defense, they’re going to see their names in that lineup. If they can go out there and play strong (defense) and make the catches and make the throws behind our pitchers. Obviously if they can hit, that’s huge as well.
“But right now, to me, pitching and defense is just so important.”
The Lady Rams have some experience back at the pitching position. Hannah Wright and Kelby Kujawa both saw time in the circle for Mt. Vernon last year behind ace Jacqueline Flood. Senior Summer Karch along with sophomores Bailee Huff and Lauren Wilson could factor into the rotation.
“We definitely have the arms as far as the number is concerned,” Boldt said. “We have several girls with pitching experience.”
Paige Clinton, a Lake Land College signee, returns after starting at catcher last year. Boldt said the senior brings experience and leadership to the Lady Rams. Freshman Rachel Wright is expected to be the team’s backup catcher.
“(Clinton) is the girl a lot of people look up to, and I definitely count on her a lot,” Boldt said. “She’s a captain on the field, I guess you could say.”
At second base, Ashley Ess, Karli Verheyen, Emily Borah and Alexis Stewart are all competing for the position. Haley Lockhart was the team’s starting shortstop last season but suffered a knee injury during the basketball season. Summer Hobson, Verheyen and Wright could be at the position this season. At third base, Malorie Garner is a returning player and Wilson could play the spot as well.
“We’ve got several guys who are all competing for spots (at) second base, shortstop, third base,” Boldt said. “Obviously losing Haley Lockhart, that was tough, especially with the bat but even with the glove she was a terrific defender.”
The first base position will depend on who is pitching that game. Wright, Kujawa and Karch could all play the spot.
“It kind of depends on who the pitcher is on a given day who’s going to be over at first base,” Boldt said.
Rachel Kirsch will see most of her time in the outfield this season. Makiah Rush, Victoria Skobel, Kujawa and Colleen Skobel all could see playing time as well.
Hannah Carbonaro brings versatility to the team and can play catcher, third base and the outfield.
The Lady Rams have primarily spent the past couple weeks practicing inside because of the poor weather conditions. Boldt said despite the restrictions, his team has gotten quality work out of the time.
“There’s a lot of things that you can get done in an indoor practice,” Boldt said. “And I just feel like the girls have been very attentive, very focused and are getting those things done.
“That being said I really want us to get outside as soon as possible. Obviously when you’re indoors you don’t have the elements that you have outside.”
Mt. Vernon starts the Fairfield Tournament at 11 a.m. against Marshall.