Gone are several key members of a Dupo High School softball program that reeled off four straight regional titles and placed second at state in 2016, so the Tigers will have their work cut out for them this spring.
“This is a rebuilding year,” Dupo second-year head coach Tom Norman admitted.
The Tigers lost starters Megan Brown, Skylure Barlow and Taylor Esmon, who all hit over .400 last season, as well as fellow senior Stormy Sellers, who hit .340. Those four players were instrumental in Dupo’s string of four 20-plus-win seasons and four straight regional crowns.
However, Dupo has a solid group of juniors who played important roles on last year’s squad that went 20-9 in Norman’s first year at the helm.
“I have a young group that could still make some noise this season,” Norman said. “We have a good bunch of juniors who saw time last year, along with other young players that need to grow.”
The crop of juniors expecting to lead Dupo this spring includes pitcher Reagan Carner, who posted a 6-2 record last season and also hit .289 with 17 RBIs. Shortstop Cameron Foster hit .314 with 23 runs last season. Kassidee Keys (two home runs, 16 RBIs in 2017) will play third base. Kenzie Kloess (.269, 15 RBIs) will play first base.
Other juniors on this year’s squad are catcher Sarah Ostertag and Brandy Rhyne.
Senior Mikayla Koonce will also see time behind the plate in 2018, Norman said.
Sophomores expected to contribute heavily this spring include first baseman Kayla Prater, pitcher/outfielder Hollie Wilson, and centerfielder Sheridan Pipkens.
Two freshmen, second baseman Ellie Elfrink and outfielder Maddie Esmon, will also see serious playing time, Norman said.
Another player to watch is Kenzie Brown.
The Tigers are off to an 0-3 start to the spring and have a busy couple of weeks to get into the swing of things.”We’ll be OK,” Norman said. “We’ll just try to keep that winning tradition going.”