By Jacki Wood

The Northeast Nodaway softball team lost most of its infield to graduation including Dallis Coffelt, Talina Nelson, Allie Runde and Jill Spire. But the Bluejays will look to younger players this year to build upon last year’s turnaround season.

“We are very young,” Head Coach Danny Smith said, “but we have several players that can step up to fill their shoes.”

Now in his second year with the team, Smith said the Bluejays won more games last year than they had won in the previous four years combined. They went 8-12 and 2-4 in the conference.

“Although we lost 12 games, four of those were by one run and three were by two runs,” he said. “We won a district game which they hadn’t done in eight years. We were very competitive and that is something we were shooting for.”

This year, Smith said all of the position players will be in a position they have played before.

“That cost us a couple games last year by girls playing somewhere new,” he said. “If the girls play to their potential, they will have a successful season if we can keep everyone healthy.”

And with just 10 girls, staying healthy will be key.

The team will be led by senior Alicia Smith who earned all-conference and all-district honors last year. Other impact players include junior Taylor Coffelt who will be starting catcher this year after playing shortstop for the last two years and sophomore Maggie Schmitz who will be the starting pitcher.

“I really look for all the girls to be impact players throughout the year,” Smith said. “Each one has the potential to impact every single game.”

Assisting Smith again this year will be Joyce Stiens.

The Bluejays start the season on August 19 at North Harrison.