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INA, Ill. (Aug. 29, 2013) – With more than a dozen games this fall, the Rend Lake College softball team is working hard to build on returning players and embrace the strengths of seven incoming freshmen.
Head Coach Dave Ellingsworth, now in his 20th season, said he’s hoping to find those standout players this fall to bring to the forefront for the spring season games, which go toward the team record.
“I’m still learning what everybody’s roles are going to be for the season,” said Ellingsworth. “On the mound I’ll have Amanda Holloway (Benton) and Paige Prather (Evansville, Ind.) as returning sophomores. I really expect Amanda to step up and be a leader. Paige didn’t pitch a lot last year, but I expect her to do more this season. Then I have Fallon Clayton (Anna) as the only sophomore infielder, so there are a lot of positions to fill.”
There are seven freshmen players joining the team this year, in addition to six returning and three transferring sophomores. The returning players are Clayton, Magen Edwards (Du Quoin), Holloway, Abbie Lehman (Marissa), Haley Miller (Rockport, Ind.) and Prather, with Kendra Goss (Marissa), Cierra Hutchinson (Johnston City) and Hannah Pontious (Zeigler) transferring. Last year, the Lady Warriors went 25-26 overall, with 1-2 in postseason.
The incoming freshmen are Emma Bachman (Carmi), Christa Hill (Coulterville), Emily Jenkins (Benton, Ken.), Ashley Lehman (Marissa), Alexis Schutte (Evansville, Ind.), Lexi Skelton (Henderson, Ken.) and Hayley Spicer (Sims).
“Team wise, our biggest weakness is a lack of speed, but countering that, we’ve got a lot of power. We have some players who can really hit it out of the park,” said Ellingsworth. “We’ve also got depth in our pitching too. Our freshman Emily Jenkins led her high school team to the Kentucky State Finals last year, so I feel that she’ll be a big contributor to our game.”
Additionally, Ellingsworth said he expects big things from the pitcher-catcher sisters Abbie and Ashley Lehman.
Though positions aren’t lined out just yet, he said he has a few players in mind for certain positions. Pitchers will include Holloway, Jenkins, Ashley Lehman, Prather and Spicer. As catchers, Ellingsworth said Abbie Lehman, Miller and Schutte will all be candidates.
He added Miller will likely be a key offensive player as she ranked in the top 50 softball players in the nation for her batting average.
On the infield, Schutte is a possibility for first base, Skelton for second base, Clayton at short stop and Hill or Hutchinson on third base. Hutchinson may also join Bachman, Edwards, Goss, Miller and Pontious in the outfield.
As for his expectations of the fall games, Ellingsworth said he plans to compete with an ever-growing conference of great teams.
“I expect to compete,” he said. “This conference is strong and getting a lot stronger. The winner in our conference last year was fifth in the nation, so we have some good competition. As always, how the pitchers go, that’s how the team goes. We need to work on getting our earned run average down.”
Off the field, Ellingsworth has the goal of keeping his girls on the academic path, which was paved by last year’s team who had the second-ranked GPA in the nation with a 3.55. The team had five players recognized by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) for their GPA’s above 3.65.
The Warriors will play their first set of games Friday, Aug. 30, and Saturday, Aug. 31, in the John A. Logan Fall Classic in Carterville. The following game will be Sept. 5 against Wabash Valley in Mt. Carmel, before the first home game at the Rend Lake Classic on Sept. 7. For the full schedule and roster, visit www.rlc.edu/softball.
For all things athletic at The Lake, visit RLC online at www.rlc.edu/warriors.