By Jacki Wood
Slowly, but surely, the Maryville Spoofhound softball team has turned things around over the last five years since head coach Chandra DeMott took over the program.
After going 3-19 the year before she arrived, the Hounds finished 3-17 in 2015, 7-16 in 2016, 8-16 in 2017, and last year, they went 12-9.
The Spoofhounds will look to build on the success they saw in 2018 and continue that upward trend as they enter this season.
“The girls really began to develop as a team in the mental aspect of the game (last year),” DeMott said, who will be assisted by coach Marci Behrens. “We had several close games, with one being the district first round game, losing by one run, and the girls really kept their composure. I think the leadership we have this year really recognized that and really wants to keep the momentum going in that direction.”
Those leaders include four seniors, center fielder Jessica Finch, pitcher/first baseman Riley Gray, Jana Walker and Kaytlynn Hall.
“Finch and Gray have both been with me since they started playing high school ball,” DeMott said. “They both have a lot of experience and are going to be great leaders with high expectations.”
While new to the team last season, DeMott said Walker and Hall are both great additions to the senior class.
“All four of these girls are driven, fun to be around and will really push the bar when it comes to expectations for the team as a whole,” she said.
Other projected impact players include a trio of juniors, first baseman/pitcher Ashlyn Alexander, catcher/short stop Briley Watkins and third baseman Morgan Wray.
“We’ve seen a lot of potential in our younger girls and really look for several of them to step into starting roles right out of the gate,” DeMott said. “I also foresee Jana Walker making her varsity debut after having to sit last season due to MSHSAA transfer ruling.”
DeMott said the team’s biggest focus at this point is replacing starting positions and working to get the younger girls prepared without a lot of time to do so. The Hounds lost four seniors from last year’s team including Jacklyn Hersh, Emma Baldwin, Summer Swalley and Jillian Partridge.
“They were a great group of leaders,” DeMott said. “We will definitely miss them in the lineup both offensively and defensively, but we’ve got several incomers that I look to progress into those roles nicely.”
The Spoofhounds look to see solid competition out of Benton, Lafayette and Class 1 teams like Platte Valley and Stanberry.
“I always think that these games really give coaching staff, and the girls, a realistic look at where we are and what needs to happen before playoff season hits,” DeMott said.
“I’m anxious to see the girls get the ball rolling – literally – and see what they want to accomplish this season. I think it’s safe to bet they’d really like to seal that first round of district playoffs, especially after falling just shy the last couple of years.
“Every year is a new team, new dynamic and new opportunity. I’m really looking forward to getting this one started.”
The Spoofhounds begin the regular season on September 3 at home versus Lathrop.