The Dupo High School softball team finished 30-7 and fell one out short of advancing to the Class 2A state tournament in 2014.
Fortunately, the key players from last year’s squad were just freshmen and sophomores, meaning there’s excitement in the air for 2015 and beyond.
“We are still very young, but with another year of experience we hope to do even better,” Dupo head coach Greg Pennock said.
Pitcher Megan Brown and catcher Rachael Donald each had monster seasons for the Tigers last year and return to anchor the squad. Donald hit .522 last season with six home runs and 53 RBIs. Brown hit .482 and posted a 28-5 record on the mound with a 1.12 ERA and 279 strikeouts.
“They are both great players and terrific leaders for our team,” Pennock said.
Brown is dealing with an injury that will prevent her from taking the mound early this season, the coach said, but she will still be able to hit and play defense in the meantime.
“Rachael will probably take some of the pitching time along with junior Jessica Stansch,” Pennock said.
Skylure Barlow and Taylor Esmon will shore up the left side of the infield. Barlow hit .396 last season; Esmon hit .388 with 16 stolen bases.
“They both have the ability to be big time impact players on offense and defense,” Pennock offered. “It’s fun to watch them every day. Barlow practices like no other kid I have ever coached — 110 percent all of the time.”
Alyssa Strubberg and Caitlin Brizzi return to the outfield this season. Strubberg hit .369 last season with 30 stolen bases and 40 runs scored. Brizzi hit .418 last season as Dupo’s centerfielder.
“All of our pitchers appreciate the effort she gives and it gives them confidence in the circle,” Pennock said of Brizzi.
Amber Mobbs will miss at least the first half of the season with a hip injury. She was the rightfielder and pitched for Dupo last year.
Savannah Maldonado returns to play second base.
“I believe she is as good defensively as anyone around at second base,” Pennock said.”We hope to get another good season with her at the plate, too. She had some really big hits for us last season.”
Stormy Sellers came up with some key hits at the end of the season and in the playoffs for the Tigers. She will play some infield and outfield this season.
“Stormy has worked so hard to become an outstanding player,” Pennock said. “I expect you will hear her name more and more as the year continues.”
The Tigers are young but experienced and expect to exceed last year’s amazing season.
“Our goals are to compete every game with everything we can give,” Pennock said. “We want to win our conference again, win another regional, win another sectional and then win the super-sectional game. Then we can have a chance to win the state title. Lofty goals, the same ones we have every year.”