Softball season preview: Multiple starting nines lack experience
In this April 2, 2011, photo, Loyola's Brooke Kehoe cheers on a teammate against Mother McAuley. Kehoe hit .360 with four home runs a year ago. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Look out for ...
Kristin Reichert (Sr.)
Reichert followed up a 49-RBI season in 2011 by driving in 43 in 2012. She batted .421 to lead the team a year ago. Reichert has averaged seven home runs per season during her three years on varsity.
Brooke Kehoe (Sr.)
Kehoe hit .360 in 2012 with four home runs. “She’s just a really talented kid,” Ramblers coach Marty Jennings said.
Bridget Murphy (Sr.)
Murphy will provide some veteran leadership for Maine East. “She learned a lot in the last year and has really matured,” Blue Demons coach Emiliano Hernandez said.
Regan Carmichael (Sr.)
Carmichael, who has committed to play basketball at Saint Louis, is making the move from outfield to first base this season. “I’m looking for great things from her,” Hawks coach Emmy Pasier said.
Updated: April 15, 2013 10:12AM
The unpredictable Illinois weather isn’t the only concern of area softball coaches, many of whom are also dealing with an influx of young and inexperienced talent.
Last week’s snow and rain has kept the players indoors longer than many coaches hoped. While the majority spoke highly of how well the girls have adjusted, many admitted to being particularly anxious to see how their young squads fare on the field.
Niles North is one of those teams that has had to make some changes, which could make it difficult for the Vikings to bounce back after a disappointing season in 2012.
The Vikings, who went 14-18 overall and finished third in the CSL North, bring back several solid hitters to form a formidable lineup, but any improvement this season may hinge on two of their young pitchers — freshmen Juliana Livieri and Carolyn Dwyer.
“We have some good young pitching ... and it always comes down to pitching,” Niles North coach Karin Wick said. “I think one of our strengths is going to be pitching. We have a lot of options and not a lot of schools have the kind of depth we do.”
Wick is optimistic about the potential impact her young pitching staff could have this year, but while she is focused on the progress in the circle, other clubs are more concerned about how a lack of experience at the plate could impact their season.
Loyola is replacing a left fielder and second baseman and while coach Marty Jennings said the competition has been good, he recognizes the challenges that the lack of experience could have as the Ramblers try to repeat as Class 4A regional champions.
“We’ve got a returning starting pitcher and catcher and that’s important, but ... I’m concerned about the new kids,” Jennings said. “There’s several that have never played at this level.”
It’s a predicament Maine South can appreciate after entering last season with a bulk of new talent. While the Hawks will have to replace players at several positions this year, the change won’t be as dramatic thanks to bringing back three infielders and a catcher.
Maine South went 14-21 last year, losing in the regional championship to Jennings‘ team.
“We have quite a few returning players and that doesn’t happen a lot,” Hawks coach Emmy Pasier said. “After having to fill some big spots last year we are expecting some great things now that they have some extra experience.”