Ho hum, another stellar Carterville softball season expected
You can't blame the Lady Lions if their roar might look like a yawn at times: The Carterville High School softball squad just makes it look too easy.
It's been more than a decade since the Lions went without at least a regional final berth, and this year's edition appears intent on keeping the run going.
Defending its Class 2A state title, Carterville is off to a 12-3 start this season and a No. 13 ranking in the Illinois Coaches Association-Softball poll for the week of April 17. Its three losses came from two Class 4A teams and top-seeded Class 2A club St. Joe Ogden, head coach Will Capie told the Southwest Illinois News in an email.
Expectations run high, cince the program has two state titles since 2008 and advanced to at least the regional final every season since 2004, Capie said.
“We have a great core returning from last year's state title team,” he said. “We know that nothing is given; we have to earn it. Especially in the Southern Illinois (Conference), where the competition is very good. We feel that if we take it game by game and not look ahead, the results will take care of themselves.”
Capie said the team was beginning to gel.
“We always treat the first three weeks as preseason," he said. "We want to get kids at bats and see them in action -- especially those who are fighting for a starting position. Now that roles are more solidified, we are starting to get in our groove as a team.”
Capie said the Lions are being led offensively by Hanna Schulmeister, who was batting .429 with a .442 on-base percentage (OBP) and six stolen bases through April 14. Abbey Crain was batting .414 with a .485 OBP and five stolen bases; Megan Barrett was hitting .391 with two home runs, a .462 OBP and 10 stolen bases; and Montana Taylor was batting .372 with a .426 OBP, one home run and 15 RBIs.
In the pitching department, Baleigh Koester had an 11-2 record with 83 innings pitched, 142 strikeouts and a 1.63 earned-run average.
Capie said the team's strengths are pitching, defense and base running, all of which will be big come playoff time.
“When postseason rolls around, rarely do you win games by wide margins," he said. "You have to find ways to win close games against good pitching. That is why we focus on an aspect of base running every single day at practice.”
Capie would like to see the squad distribute the scoring a bit better throughout the game. During the first part of the season, the Lions scored in bunches, including one big inning.
“However, it's usually our second or third time through the lineup,” he said. “I'd like to see us spread the scoring out and be more productive the first time through the lineup -- put less pressure on our pitching and defense.”
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306 Virginia Ave
Carterville, IL 62918