Spring Preview: New look for prep softball teams

Spring Preview: New look for prep softball teams


Spring Preview: New look for prep softball teams


Things are a bit different for the 2015 season in softball in Battle Creek.

For a long time, Harper Creek and Lakeview were league rivals, competing with each other near the top of the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East Division.

While Pennfield played a mostly Kalamazoo-based schedule in the Kalamazoo Valley Association.

Now flip that.

Harper Creek and Pennfield are in a new league called the Interstate 8 and will be rivals, seeing other former SMAC East Division foes Marshall and Coldwater.

Lakeview stays in the SMAC East, but that conference is leaning more and more toward Kalamazoo with the loss of some area teams.

Add two programs hoping to build for the future in Battle Creek Central and St. Philip, and it could be an interesting season on the diamond.

Here’s a closer look at the 2015 area prep softball teams:

Battle Creek Central

Coach: Josh Dreps (1st season)

2014: n/a

Top returners: Keosha Ridley, sr., P; Jasmine Warren, sr., 1B; Jaliyah Richardson, jr., SS; Dayna King, so., IF

Outlook: Battle Creek Central has struggled in recent years with the number of people in the program and that has been reflected in the record as wins have been scarce. The Bearcats are hoping to start building something this season under first-year head coach Josh Dreps.

“My goal as first-year head coach is to start changing the dynamics of Bearcat softball. I believe we are heading in the right direction with the group of girls I have on my roster. This team will only get better as the season progresses,” Dreps said.

Harper Creek

Coach: Bill Burritt (2nd season)

2014: 18-15, district champs

Top returners: Sam Tilley, sr., 3B; Kailie Graham, sr., C; Lindsay Clark, sr., INF/OF; Aubrey Greenfield, sr., OF; Taylor Shellenberger, jr., P/SS; Jamie Shreve, jr., OF; Anna Pascoe, so., 1B; Katie Wade, so., SS/OF, Jacqueline Green, so., OF

Outlook: Harper Creek looks loaded with six starters returning from a team that won 18 games last season and a district title. The Beavers should be able to contend for a title in their first year in the Interstate 8 Conference.

“We have high expectations for this season in our new league. Taylor Shellenberger and Haligh Pickett head up our pitching staff, which is key as we will have more than one pitcher on the team, which we haven’t had in the past,” Burritt said.


Coach: Brian Ratliff (15th year)

2014: 15-17

Top returners: Paige Tobin, sr., OF; Meredith Johnson, sr., OF; Shayna Starring, sr., P/INF; Kayla Callaway., jr., P/INF; Kim Kucharczyk, jr., INF; Taryn Snyder, so., C/OF

Outlook: With only three seniors with major playing experience, Lakeview will be young in 2015 and looking to get better as the season progresses. The Spartans will have to depend on some new faces if they want to improve on last year and get over the .500 mark.

Our goal is to improve every week and to be competitive day in and day out. This team is very positive and hard-working. I can’t ask for much more than that as a coach. We are young, and have a lot to learn, but the girls are very coachable,” Ratliff said.


Coach: Pam Metcalf (4th season)

2014: 11-23

Top returners: Tess Needham, sr., 3b; Aubrey Ritter, sr., OF; Alexa Stephenson, jr., P/1B; Brooke Lenz, jr., P/1B; Jessica Roan, jr., C

Outlook: Pennfield has five returning starters, but a small senior class with only two coming back with major playing experience. The Panthers will look to improve on last season’s 11-win season, while playing in a new league, with the help of some new faces.

Pennfield's Jessica Roan slides into home plate during a recent game against Lakeview.

Pennfield’s Jessica Roan slides into home plate during a recent game against Lakeview.

“We are excited and look forward to the challenges of a new league – the Interstate 8. We have several new faces to go with the five returning. With these experienced players to lean on and look to for guidance, we should push teams to play at their best. We look forward to watching our team mature and gel throughout the season,” Metcalf said.

St. Philip

Coach: Peggy Boucher

2014: n/a

Top returners: Abby Mullis, jr.; Juju Unger, so., Kara Twiest, so., Emily Forche, jr.; Adrian Hibbard, sr., Kortney Steele, jr.; Abby McClure, sr., Amanda Yacovoni, sr.

Outlook: After not having a team, St. Philip brought back its softball program last year and it continues to be in a rebuilding stage going into 2015. The Tigers do have several players that had important playing experience last year, so the team thinks it will take another step this season.

“With a renewed program comes all those growing pains. Last year we made great strides to at least be able to play with some teams. This year we are hoping to be able to hang with most teams. And another year of experience brings better batting. It’s one thing to be able to hold teams down but you still have to put runs on the board. With the athletes we have, we should definitely score more,” Boucher said.


Coach: Kathy Parlin (6th season)

2014: 9-17

Top returners: Hannah Fairchild, sr., IF/OF; Ally Fuller, sr., IF; Kelcie Weeks, sr., P; Jenny Smittendorf, jr., IF

Outlook: “We are looking to improve upon last year’s record. We have a talented group of returners and a lot of new talent that will make that goal achievable. I am looking forward to a great season,” Parlin said.


Coach: Larry Mathewson

2014: 14-14

Top returners: n/a

Outlook: “Having graduated no one, the Broncos look to pick up the season where they left off last year. This young Bellevue team looks to amp up the offensive game. The Broncos should be competitive and individual hard work should satisfy the teams determination to win,” Mathewson said.


Coach: Becky Gray (10th season)

2014: 36-5

Top returners: Skyler Sobeski, sr., P; Kinslea Blouins, sr., SS; Hannah Hoover, sr., OF/C; Kelsey Robinson, jr., OF; Allie Sikorski, so., 3B

Outlook: Bronson is coming off a 36-win season, but only return three senior starters from that group. So the Vikings will be depending on new faces.

“We have eight freshman on the team this year who are learning the game. Our success will be determined on how fast they improve. We look to be competitive with whoever we play,” Gray said.


Coach: Pam Macomber (3rd season)

2014: 19-9, league champs

Top returners: Taylor Macomber, jr., P; Allison Kienast, jr., P; Sydney Macomber, jr., OF; Tacey Piper, jr., 1B; Lydia Swager, jr., SS

Outlook: Climax-Scotts returns all but one starter from a season ago, so the Panthers are hoping that experience will help them contend for a league title once again and build on last year’s 19-win season.

“We have a lot of experience. The transition from being a young team to a veteran team is easy to see this year. With that leadership we have a dedication to improve on our overall record from last year,” Macomber said.


Coach: Tina Scheidler

2014: 17-11

Top returners: Michaela Gillette, sr., 3B; Payton Watson, jr., C; Kendall Galloway, jr., SS; Morgan Howard, sr., OF; Katie Stanton, jr., 2B

Outlook: Coldwater is getting ready for play in a new league in the Interstate 8, but doesn’t have a lot of experience from a year ago with only two seniors with major experience. The Cardinals do feature four-year varsity player Michaela Gillette, who is a three-year all-conference selection.

“We will be young especially our pitching and a little inexperienced. We have a decent core of players coming back from last year and will expect them to be our leaders,” Scheidler said.


Coach: Ryan Vallier (7th season)

2014: 22-8, league champs

Top returners: Marissa Taylor, Megan Warn, Taya Bower, Bailey Clipfell, Greta Minor, Paige Koller, Madison Miller, Abbey Feller, Kali Tyler

Outlook: “We should once again challenge Climax-Scotts for the league championship. We hope to be very competitive in every game we play and compete for a conference and district title,” Vallier said.


Coach:Vickie DeLeon (1st season)

2014: n /a

Top returners: Whitney French, sr., OF/P; Erin Patterson, sr., P/INF; Estee Ostlund, sr., OF/INF; Kathrun Dooley, sr., C/P; Alex McDaniel, sr., INF;

Outlook: Under first-year head coach Vickie DeLeon, Galesburg-Augusta is looking to continue to build its program with a mixed-bag of experience, which includes six seniors, but only one junior, with four sophomores.

Gull Lake

Coach: Katie Smith (7th season)

2014: 25-13, league champs, district champs

Top returners: Gracie Boyle, jr, P; Cassidy Eastman, jr, 1B/C; Atira Carter, jr, OF; Jordyn Geik, so., 2B; Kylie Tobias, so., C; Jessie Kistner, so, OF

Outlook: Gull Lake is coming off a highly-successful season after winning a league title and a district crown. However, the Blue Devils don’t have a lot of experience coming back and do move up to Class A this year.

“Although we are quite young, we return some valuable players from last season’s successful team. We look to build on that success while incorporating some new players into our lineup,” Smith said.


Coach: Jeremy Ball (1st season)

2014: 25-11

Top returners: Thalia Sherman, sr., OF; Mallorie Lowder, sr., OF; Tyme Warner, jr., 1B; Alyssa Boyd, sr., INF; Caylie Canniff, sr., SS; Bailey Manis, sr., OF; Courtney Wilson, jr., OF; Karleigh Butler, so., P/INF

Outlook: Homer features several top returners and some new quality players who were developed in a successful JV program.

“Our team is very dedicated and driven to succeed. We have a great group of girls who know what it takes to be successful and who are willing to put in the time and work to make that happen,” Ball said.

Maple Valley

Coach: Jim Schwartz (1st season)

2014: n/a

Top returners: Megan Bonney, jr. C; Michaela Johnson, jr., ss; Bridget King, jr., IF/OF; Taylor Medina, jr., IF/OF, Emily Morris, jr., 3B

Outlook: Under first-year head coach Jim Schwartz, Maple Valley will have a very young team and will be looking to gain experience throughout the season.

“Over half of this year’s varsity team are freshmen with no high school game experience. Our success will depend on their development and how this young team comes together,” Schwartz said.


Coach: Anthony Miller (7th season)

2014: 4-29

Top returners: Lindsay Gardner, so., OF; Brooklyn Patton, sr., 2b; Kaylie Bates, jr., SS; Hope Earl, sr., C; Olivia Meister, sr., INF; Chelsea Lake, sr., 1B; Jazmin Yaudes, jr., INF

Outlook: After struggling with a young team last year, Marshall brings back much of that roster and is hoping to build on that experience.

“Coming off a year where we took our lumps with we feel like we have set ourselves up to have a much better 2015. Our goal for the year is to remain focused on improving and being very competitive in every game. I like the mix of kids that we have this year,” Miller said.


Coach: Steve Meyer (5th season)

2014: 20-15

Top returners: Alissa Costello, sr., SS; Hannah Mathie, sr., OF; Alyssa Meeker, sr., OF; Jordan Richmand, jr., INF; Kara Mott, jr., INF; Shawna Morton, jr., P

Outlook: Olivet is getting ready to play in a new league in the Greater Lansing Athletic Conference and head into the year with an experienced group.

“I have very high expectations for this group of girls. We are returning seven girls from last year’s team and are adding a very talented group of players to them,” Meyer said.


Coach: Brian Perry

2014: 4-23

Top returners: Haley Lewallen, sr., IF; Taylor Renfro, sr., 1B; Carley Travis, sr., C; Nicole Stanley, sr., P; Alexis McKean, jr., P; Breanna Mack, jr. OF; Alexis Newbold, so., SS; Marissa Eichen, so., IF, Kayla Cole, so., OF

Outlook: The team will be a co-op between Tekonsha and Marshall Academy, with several players returning from what was a young team a year ago.

“The Indians begin this season much more experienced than last season and have quality depth at most positions. We return every pitcher from last season and should have a much improved mound presence,” Perry said.

Union City

Coach: Chris Mead

2014: n/a

Top returners: Marissa Mead, sr., P; Riley Smith, sr,. C; Morgan Welke, sr., OF; Haley Harty, jr., 3B; Skyler Herman, so., ss

Outlook: With four-year starters at pitcher in Marissa Mead and catcher at Riley Smith, Union City has a strong nucleus to start from as the Chargers hope to contend in the league. Overall, Union City has six players returning with starting experience.

“Overall we have a pretty solid team. I think we will be solid defensively and aggressive at the plate. The Big 8 is wide open this year. I believe if we play to our ability and start the season off playing good ball we will be competing for the top of the conference,” Mead said.

Spring Previews

The Enquirer will be running high school spring previews throughout the next two weeks. See the Enquirer daily for information on your favorite team, or go online to read about sports you may have missed.

Today: Softball

Wednesday: Baseball

Thursday: Boys’ golf

Pennfield's Alexa Stephenson throws a pitch during a recent game against Lakeview.

Pennfield’s Alexa Stephenson throws a pitch during a recent game against Lakeview.


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