The Mercy Academy softball team lost two seniors from last season’s state championship team, but its most noticeable loss came in the coach’s box.Josh Bloomer is now the coach at Male, leaving Greg Vorbrink to take over as the Jaguars’ new leader.
Vorbrinksays Mercy has the right attitude to repeat in 2013.
“They had a taste of how great that feeling is,” he said. “They want it again, and they come out every day playing as a team with passion and the desire to win.”
No. 3-ranked Mercy lost Morgan Ellington and J.J. Francis to graduation but returns a wealth of talent, led by seniors Hayley Twyman (Campbellsville signee), Morgan Meyer (Louisville), Caroline Keck, Aubrey Meiners and Lexi Ratterman.Juniors Erika Downey (committed to Murray State) and Hannah Gray and sophomore Jordan Vorbink (committed to Louisville) also are solid. Twyman leads the pitching staff, with sophomores Leigh Ellen Thomas and Kaylin Winchell also in the mix.
Other Louisville-area teams (several did not provide information):
* Bullitt Central (24-10 last season) has two solid juniors in Hailey Szpila (.350 last season) and Haley Dukes.
* No. 24 Bullitt East (28-11) is the defending regional champion and features senior center fielder Nikki Hinkley plus junior pitcher Morgan Raymer, catcher Kayla Raymer and first baseman Jessica Hanna.
But now Mercy is in the Sixth Region after winning three of the past four Seventh Region titles.
* Butler (22-13) has five starters back from last year’s regional runner-up team, led by pitcher Abby Ziegler, catcher Larissa Book and shortstop Miranda Garrett.
* Doss (9-9) will lean on senior pitcher Whitney Davis, first baseman Morgan Greenwell and third baseman Jasmine Grey.
* Fairdale (19-12) is led by senior infielder Brandy Schweitzer (.302) and junior shortstop/catcher Narrisa Keown (.531, 34 RBIs).
* Fern Creek (18-14) moves from the Seventh Region and features seniors Katelyn Shultz (.400) and Becca Bishop (.300, 20 steals), junior Katie Hansgen (.319) and sophomore Sara Bibb (.350).
* Holy Cross (24-15) returns seniors Madison Ray, Katelyn Heines, Katie Pelle and Chelsey Frith.
* Jeffersontown (9-21) has three solid players in senior pitcher/utility player McKenna Brinley, junior pitcher/third baseman Morgan LaLonde and sophomore first baseman Hannah Jones.
* Kentucky Country Day (5-12) has three seniors in second baseman Cat Gallagher, first baseman Bree Couts and catcher Bailey Tatum-Johns and a freshman pitcher in Ellie Domato.
* No. 17 Pleasure Ridge Park (25-13) has just two seniors but a strong junior class.
* Southern (13-15) has just two seniors on the roster in Kim Penick and Kayla Buckman.
* Valley (4-10-1) and first-year coach Gary McCawley will lean on juniors Makinsey Thrasher and Makayla Streater.
* Assumption (32-7) reached the regional semifinals last season and returns power-hitting juniors Lilly Nitzken and Alyssa Tarquinio, who combined for 16 home runs last season. Sophomore Cassidy Janes is a solid leadoff hitter.
* Atherton (17-12) is led by a trio of seniors in pitchers Addison Murphy and Chelsey Edgell and outfielder Shelby Perkins.
* No. 4 Ballard (34-5-1) becomes the favorite in the region with Mercy’s move to the Sixth. Senior outfielders Breon Thomas (Shelton State) and Bailey Walker (North Alabama) have signed with colleges. Junior pitcher/outfielder Jessica Adell has committed to Tennessee, and sophomore Alexis Hull is a strong catcher.
* Michelle Timmerman is the new coach at Central, which did not field a varsity team last year.
* Christian Academy (28-8) returns eight starters, led by senior center fielder Abby Woosley (.373, 25 RBIs) and three sophomores in shortstop Brittany Mumford (.333, 25 RBIs), first baseman/catcher Jessica Powell (.409, 23 RBIs) and first baseman/catcher Cassidy Cook (.360, 14 RBIs). Woosley is the only senior on the roster.
* Collegiate (8-10-1) will try to improve behind the battery of junior pitcher Anne Czerwonka and senior catcher Maggie Wood.
* Eastern (24-16) was a regional semifinalist last year and returns three seniors in pitcher Casey Smith (Kentucky Wesleyan signee), shortstop Paige Alford and outfielder Kerry Hager. Junior infielder Rachel Kelley and sophomore catcher Amber Foukes provide pop in the batting order.
* No. 14 Male (25-12-1) has a solid 1-2 pitching punch in senior Ally Miozza and junior Jessica Wireman for new coach Josh Bloomer. Senior Alex Ginter is a versatile athlete who will play both third base and catcher.
* Manual (18-12) has three-year senior starters in catcher Savannah Madison (.374, Lindsey Wilson signee), second baseman Madyson Martin (.337, 19 RBIs) and outfielder Sadie Cohen (.389, 26 runs).
* Sacred Heart (20-13) features seniors Melissa Hammer and Olivia Russell, both Bellarmine signees. Coach Bob Wheatley said he’ll have a “very good hitting team” but is “thin on pitchers.”
* Seneca (3-14) returns juniors Hannah Jones, Brandi Nelson and Hannah Wheeler and sophomore Samuari Jones.
* Waggener (3-16) returns three seniors in catcher Destiny Purri (.354), shortstop Markiee Keaton (.389) and pitcher/utility player Holly Howard (.326).
* Collins (18-16) is led by senior outfielder Bailey Rankin, who has signed with Southern University. Senior catcher Alex Baker and junior outfielder Lindsey Ketcham are other top players.
* North Oldham (15-21) has just two seniors and one junior on the roster. Sophomores lead the team in pitcher Sam Maiocco, infielder Melissa Martineson and center fielder Megan Rohrbach.
* Oldham County (35-8) is the defending regional champions and has four strong seniors in pitcher Jessica Leanhart (school-record 30 wins), shortstop Sarah Lopesilvero (Lakeland College signee), catcher Rebecca Wishnevski and outfielder Cynthia Leaton (Dayton signee).
* South Oldham (18-16) and new coach Jessica Turner will rely on sophomore shortstop Courtney Galvan, sophomore pitcher Danielle Hemple and junior catcher Ashleigh Howard.
PRESEASON TOP 25
From Kentucky Softball Coaches Association1. Greenwood, 2. Owensboro Catholic, 3. Mercy, 4. Ballard, 5. North Laurel, 6. Scott County, 7. Oldham County, 8. Christian County, 9. Lafayette, 10. Bowling Green, 11. Reidland, 12. Ryle, 13. Boyle County, 14. Male, 15. Lone Oak, 16. Marshall County, 17. Pleasure Ridge Park, 18. Paul Dunbar, 19. Livingston Central, 20. Madison Central, 21. South Laurel, 22. Boyd County, 23. Central Hardin, 24. Bullitt East, 25. Harrison County.Defending state champion: Mercy.Postseason schedule: Districts start May 20; regionals start May 27; state tournament June 6-8, site TBA.