The Baker Orange

2016 softball team ready to take the field

Story by Nathalia Barr, Managing Editor

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After a 13-33 season in 2015, the Wildcats will look to make this softball season the start of an upward trend.

“Last year was a starting point,” sophomore Stephanie Cardona said. “It was a year to develop and grow our team.”

The Wildcats went 7-11 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference and ended the season when No. 8 Central Methodist knocked them out of the Heart tournament.

On offense, the Wildcats were typically able to get on base but struggled getting runners home. Baker was outscored by its opponents 267-136.

Cardona believes this year’s offense will be much more powerful with the depth of the roster. Cardona led the 2015 Wildcat offense with a .366 batting average. She recorded 49 hits, 24 runs and 24 RBIs, earning herself a spot on the second team all-conference team along with senior teammate Peyton Weekly.

Weekly’s .307 batting average helped the ‘Cats as well. Once on base, Weekly stole 13 bases, the most of any Wildcat.

Baker will enter this season without its starting pitcher, first-team all-conference selection Mallorie Nelson. Nelson had a 3.13 ERA and pitched 169 strikeouts last season. Due to her education major, Nelson will be student teaching and unable to play softball this season.

The ‘Cats have brought in six new players this season, five of whom are freshmen.

Junior first baseman Lizzie Stover believes this deep roster will change the way the team plays. Stover is excited to start this season. She says the team is much more relaxed and the freshmen bring energy to the team.

As a freshman, starting shortstop Cardona made a large contribution to the Wildcats. She believes that this year’s freshmen can do the same thing.

“(The freshmen) have stepped in and helped us tremendously already,” Cardona said. She also believes some of them will have starting positions for the ‘Cats.

The freshmen include pitchers Olivia Brees and Mira Scavuzzo, shortstop Caitlin Hardgrove, outfielder Hannah Tolliver and third baseman Rachel Wheeler.

To start the season, the Wildcats will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, for the Cowtown Classic Feb. 12-13. Baker will match up against five other teams, none of which they played last year.

For the home opener, the ‘Cats take on Southwestern College at 1 p.m. on Feb. 16. In their last matchup Baker came out on top, 2-1.

“We’ve demonstrated that we’re ready to play,” Stover said, “we just have to come out and compete and stay focused.”

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