Softball season is here and Lee County has a strong shot at gettting two teams into the state final four in 2013. In Class 4A Rick Hendrix has a ton of girls back from a Bishop Verot team that made a surprise run to the final four. Verot had three seniors graduate and have tons of experience all over the diamond.
It was the Vikings second final four appearance in three years.
Ida Baker was one game away from making it to the school’s first final four in 6A and have News-Press All-Area Player of the Year Maddy Peres back on the mound. Coach Jim Schlotter had a tremendous rookie season at the helm and the heartbreak of begin one game away can only fuel the Bulldogs.
Down in Class 2A Southwest Florida Christian could also make a deep playoff run with ace Meghan Sullivan back for her senior year.
The previews of Lee County teams are listed below:
* Coach: Rick Hendrix (6th season)
* District: 4A-11
* Last year’s record: 24-7
* Returning players: Senior Jordan Honc, SS/3B, Senior Amber Plaza, C/SS, Senior Morgan Cole, CF/2B, Senior Kirstin Marshall, OF, Senior Irianna Vento, OF, Senior Danika Theile, 1B/P, Junior Kassidy Stawicki,1B/P, Junior Chandler Smith, LF/1B, Junior Annette Castaldo, P/OF, Junior Jessica Kramer, OF
* Player to watch: Annette Castaldo – Just a junior Castaldo has made a name for herself in Southwest Florida going 12-5 last season with a 1.40 ERA and 117 strikeouts. She was a News-Press first teamer on a team that made it all the way to the Class 4A Final Four. Look for her to be even more consistent this season for Verot.
* Outlook: Verot lost three seniors after a Final Four run in 2012, its second Final Four appearance in the last three years. Its biggest lost was in the outfield with Samantha Davies graduating. Senior Amber Plaza will be back at short, she was team MVP and hit .385 with a team-high 34 RBIs. There is a mix of talented underclassmen and seniors that will make this team formidable again in 2013.
* Coach: Amy Petruska (5th season)
* District: 5A-13
* Last Year’s Record: 9-17
* Returning players: Clara Mediano, senior, 1B; Emily McLain, senior, Catcher; Mallory Gerrero, junior, 2B; Carly Vilardi, sophomore, P/OF
* Player to watch: Freshman Makenzie Buss – Makenzie brings a good amount of playing experience and will be looked upon for on the field leadership as a freshman.
* Outlook: The Seahawks have a rejuvenated roster with eight new players. They will need to play solid defense to improve on last season’s finish, eight games under .500. Look for Buss to make a lot of noise this season in the Cape.
* Coach: Haley Martin (2nd year)
* District: 5A-13
* Last year’s record: 0-17
* Returning players: Senior Sara Dagnese, 2B, Senior Kaitlyn Combs, 3B/C, Senior Brittany Sibert 2B/OF, Sophomore Hunter Orfield, OF, Sophomore Markie McDonald, SS, Junior Golden Ragan, OF, Junior Sammie Damico, CF, Junior Daisy Stallwood, 1B/3B
* Player to watch: Andy Andrews- Andy is new to the Cypress softball team but has a ton of knowledge and talent to offer. Andrews will be a threat on the mound and at the plate.
* Outlook: The Panthers will be looking to improve on last season’s winless mark. They have eight players returning and will be more competitive in 2013. “This year the Lady Panthers are looking to continue their improvement of last year’s season with their hard work, determination, and competitive spirit throughout the 2013 softball season,” coach Martin said.
* Coach: Howard West (4th year)
* District: 4A-11
* Last year’s record: 5-17
* Returning players: Senior Brinetta Beauflan, 3B, Senior Jaylene Brito, 2B, Senior Desire Cody, CF, Sophomore Shaitura Fuller, LF, Sophomore Elena Hall, C/INF, Sophomore Morgan Hunter, SS/3B, Senior Ashley Kirkland, 2B, Sophomore Vanessa Mikes, P/INF, Junior Keyana Williams, 1B
* Player to watch: Vanessa Mikes – Mikes won five games for the Lady Tigers as a freshman and will only get better in 2013. She has gained more control on her ball over the summer and has a lot of potential.
* Outlook: Dunbar has a larger roster this year going from nine to 19 players in Howard West’s fourth year at the helm. Sophomores Elena Hall and Morgan Hunter should have more of an output this season in their second year of varsity play. Nine players are returning so expect this team to grab more wins this season.
* Coach: Kim Lindeberg (1st year)
* District: 5A-14
* Last year’s record: 6-14
* Returning players: Senior Kylie Waters, C, Senior Zoe Herron, LF, Senior, Hanna Cain, CF, Junior Gabby Hernandez, P, Junior Madi Thompson, LF/3B, Junior Taylor Guffey, SS, Junior Taylor Moser, RF, Sophomore Kellie Torocco, P/1B, Sophomore, Madi Cernohous, 1B/2B, Sophomore Kacey Robbins, 2B/3B
* Player to watch: Senior Kylie Waters – Waters was a News-Press Honorable mention selection last year. She has a commitment to the team and love for the game that is infectious in the clubhouse.
* Outlook: The Wildcats had a rough 2011-12 season coming away with just six wins. Lindeberg has a lot of players returning in her first year at the helm. Waters will need some help from the underclassmen on a squad with three seniors.
* Coach: Jay Nelson (4th Year)
* District: 3A-11
* Last year’s record: 16-8
* Returning players: Senior Brittany Wogoman, SS, Junior Kelsey Smallwood, CF, Junior Rebekah Berth, LF, Sophomore Carly West, P, Sophomore Maria Nelson, C
* Player to watch: Sophomore Catcher Maria Nelson – Nelson has led ECS in batting average, RBIs and home runs the last three seasons. Last year Nelson hit .522 with 35 hits, 29 RBIS and four home runs for the Sentinels.
* Outlook: Nelson is still recovering from a inflamed rotator cuff in her right throwing arm and was the goalie for the Class A runner-up girls soccer team. The team has the ability to compete for a district time if they up their play on defense. Look for hitting and pitching to be a signature for fourth-year coach Jay Nelson.
* Coach: Johnny Manetta (2nd year)
* District: 6A-13
* Last year’s record: 19-10
* Returning players: Sophomore Jordan Chase, 2B, Senior Emily Mora, OF, Sophomore Stephanie Norris, P/OF, Junior Becca Troast, C, Sophomore Katherine Strange, 3B/OF, sophomore Josey Mayer, 1B, Senior Kasey Mayer, P/1B, Junior Tia Chambers, CF
* Player to watch: Senior Kasey Mayer – An honorable mention All-Area selection in 2012 Mayer is one of the top power pitchers and hitters in Southwest Florida. Mayer held a batting average of .464 with 32 hits and 22 RBIs last season. On the mound Mayer was 11-6 with a 2.57 ERA in 19 starts.
* Outlook: Manetta is in his second season of the helm for the Green Wave, finished as District 6A-13 runner-up losing to Ida Baker 4-0 in last season’s district final. The team expects big things from senior Kasey Mayer and her younger sister sophomore Josey Mayer was first team All-Area in 2012. “We expect to have strong pitching, mixed in with a defense that should grow together as the season moves along. A defense that will compliment a much faster Green Wave team with some girls that can really hit,” Manetta said.
* Coach: Jim Schlotter (2nd year)
* District: 6A-13
* Last year’s record: 20-2, county and district champs, regional final
* Returning players: Senior Deniece Bent, SS, Senior Brittney Benvie, OF, Senior Candace Wright, OF, Senior Jessica Nuccio, 3B, Senior Maddy Peres, P, Senior Karissa Dubay, OF, Sophomore Jessica Kane, C, Sophomore Lacie Ellithorpe, P, Sophomore Sarah McKee, 2B
* Player to Watch: Deniece Bent – A News-Press All-Area selection as a junior with a .447 batting average, .475 on-base percentage and team-high 19 RBIs. Bent has that combination of hitting power and average that makes her a threat every time she steps into the batter’s box.
* Outlook: This team was one game away from the Class 6A Final Four last season and lost just two seniors. The Bulldogs have a lot of experience and solid pitching with a strong defense behind the mound. News-Press All-Area Player of the Year Maddy Peres is back for her final season after fanning 196 batters with a 0.07 ERA last year. Seniors Jessica Nuccio, Brittney Benvie and Bent will provide ample run support for pitching staff. This team has all the parts to make it to the state Final Four this year.
* Coach: Tim Loughren
* District: 6A-13
* Last year’s record: 8-14
* Returning Players: Senior Katie McDonald, CF, Sophomore Taylor Sense, 3B, Senior Darian Martin, C, Senior Mikaela Kelley, 1B, Senior Kayla Logsdon, P, Senior Olivia Lugo, SS
* Player to watch: Sophomore Taylor Sense – Sense is coming off a super freshman campaign where she hit just over .500 and was a News-Press All-Area honorable mention selection. She can only get better and should be a formidable force in the batter’s box and at third.
* Outlook: The team took its bumps last year and lost three seniors giving them a lot of field experience. They will have to plug the hold left by pitcher Dana Ruff and the pitching staff will be looked to step their game up early and often. “The Gators should surprise some teams as we look to rise from the middle of the pack in softball,” coach Loughren said.
* Coach: Raymond Marroquin (14th season)
* District: 2A-11
* Last year’s record: 17-11
* Returning players: Senior Michelle Gielow, P, Senior Elanee Marroquin, C, Junior Rachel Reinbott, LF, Senior Cory Taylor, 1B, Sophomore Beatrice Cardosa, SS/3B, Junior Sidney Nunez, OF/2B, Sophomore Logann White, OF, Senior Jesse Whitman, 2B
* Player to watch: Michelle Gielow – The senior will carry the pitching load this year and “will surprise some people,” coach Marroquin said. She didn’t pitch much last year but has been working all summer and is ready for a productive 2013.
* Outlook: The Cowgirls made it all the way to the regional semi-finals and return a strong core of those players. All of their infielders return and starting senior pitcher Michelle Gielow should have a major impact this season. Gielow didn’t pitch much last season and has worked hard this summer to improve her game. Look for this team to contend for a district title.
* Coach: Paul Topliff
* District: 5A-14
* Last year’s record: 12-15, 5-5, best overall and district record in a decade
* Returning players: Senior Kelsey Anderson, C, Senior Katelyn Topliff, CF, Junior Kayla Brooks, 1B, Junior Isabella Quiles-Rosa, 3B, Junior Krysten Topliff, LF, Sophomore Kayla Hauser, P, Sophomore Emily Collier, RF
* Player to watch: Junior Krysten Topliff – Topliff is a two-time All-Area selection in the outfield. She was an All-State Selection in 2012. Her batting average of .525 with 27 RBIs were both a team-high.
* Outlook: This team had their best season in a decade last year finishing 12-15 overall and .500 in district play. The team can create a lot of runs with strong bats but the pitching will have to come through to get above .500. “We have the potential to be a very good hitting team and I believe we will be strong defensively. But we will only go as far as our pitchers take us,” coach Topliff said.
* Coach: Donna Coleman (4th year)
* District: 5A-13
* Last year’s record: 16-10
* Returning players: Junior Nicole Amaya, OF, Senior Kady Ennis, SS, Junior Heather Gillions, 1B, Junior Taylor Henderson, 3B, Senior Alaina Hunt, OF, Senior Brittany Jarvis, OF, Sophomore Cheyenne Krolzyk, C, Senior Alyssa Langdale, P
* Player to Watch: Alyssa Langdale – Langdale is one of the top pitchers in Southwest Florida and was a first-team News-Press All-Area selection as a junior. She hit .565 at the plate and struck out 175 batters, both school records. Langdale’s pitching prowess will be key to the Tritons chances of making the playoffs.
* Outlook: Mariner finished third in District 5A-13 and will make a strong run at a postseason spot this season. Junior Heather Gillions is back at first after a sophomore campaign where she held a batting average of .437 and led the team in RBIs (26). “I feel we have a chance to be one of the top two teams in our district. My girls are working hard and are really determined to claim one of the top two spots,” coach Coleman said.
North Fort Myers
* Coach: Rachel Holloway (2nd year)
* District: 5A-13
* Last year’s record: 21-6
* Returning players: Junior Sarah Waitekus, P, Junior Kaylee Morgan, 2B, Sophomore Alynn Kayatta, SS, Sophomore Ashlee Hroncich, C, Sophomore Emily Bush, 1B, Junior Rylee Manetta, OF, Junior Katie Grubb, OF, Senior Tori Fields, OF, Sophomore Kate Kelly, OF,
* Player to watch: Sarah Waitekus – The junior Waitekus led the offense last year with a .414 batting average and 23 RBI’s. She will also be featured as the No. 1 pitcher for the Red Knights.
* Outlook: This is a bunch that loves to score a lot of runs and pitching and defense will be key to the Red Knights victories. North Fort Myers was runner-up in District 5A-13 last season but with the amount of talent they have returning they can win this district. “I believe if we play to our potential and continue to work hard we can win this district and be one of the top teams in the area,” said coach Holloway.
* Coach: Bill McChesney (10th year)
* District: 6A-13
* Last year’s record: 14-12
* Returning players: Senior Riley Caylor, P, Senior Jessica Kobie, CF, Sophomore Ana Bravo, 2B, Junior Kiley Sites, SS, Junior Maddy Pendarvis, LF, Sophomore Marjorie Conner, C, Sophomore Colleen Helveston, 1B
* Player to watch: Senior Riley Caylor – Caylor head an ERA of 1.72 in 23 appearances for the Raiders in 2012. She pitched 110 innings and was 13-10 last season.
* Outlook: This team has just four seniors and Caylor will have to lead the girls after an honorable mention All-Area 2012 season. Senior Jessica Kobie hit just above the Mendoza line at .206 but drove in the most runs, 15. McChensney will have a lot of young players to work with in this tough district with Ida Baker and Fort Myers.
Southwest Florida Christian
* Coach: Michael Graci (11th Year)
* District: 2A-10
* Last year’s record: 18-5
* Returning players: Seniors Meghan Sullivan, Carol Ann Sammet, Kayla Doerstling, Mia Swiersz, Stephanie Smith
* Player to watch: Senior Meghan Sullivan. Meghan’s pitching ability will keep SFCA in games and she swings a hot bat in the batter’s box. She held Batting average of .576 with 27 RBIs and 13 stolen bases last season.
* Outlook: Michael Graci’s Kings lost some key senior talent after taking the District 2A-10 title in 2012. Graci does have the luxury of another strong senior class this season led by pitcher Meghan Sullivan. The seniors will have be leaders early if this team plans on repeating as district champs.