Coming off a successful 23-11 spring season in 2014, this year’s Lady Panther softball team will face their 2015 schedule with a complement of players who are relatively untested at the varsity level.
OTHS coach Kelly Paproth, who will be starting her second season at the helm of the Panther softball program, faces the task of replacing nine players lost to graduation, most of whom filled major roles. Despite the daunting numbers, Paproth is optimistic her Panthers have enough senior leadership, varsity experience and talent to compete successfully in the rugged Southwestern Conference.
“Our goals are to play hard every game and create chances to win,” Paproth said. “We have excellent senior leadership and a lot of girls with at least some varsity experience playing behind our senior starters last year.”
Softball success begins in the pitcher’s circle and, fortunately for the Lady Panthers, that is one position Paproth will not have to fill with a new recruit, as junior Addison Barnouski returns for her third varsity season. An All-Conference hurler in 2014, Barnouski compiled an 18-7 record and Paproth expects another strong season from her ace. Barnouski will be aided by another junior pitcher, Alex Lloyd, who performed well in limited varsity action last spring.
“Addison is a proven starter and Alex will provide a good complement, giving us a solid pitching corps,” Paproth said.
Sami Stadts, returning at third base after an excellent junior season, will anchor the interior defense at third base. Other returning starters in the infield include Allison Underwood and Jordan DeRemer.
Three new players will patrol the Panther outfield as all three starters last year were seniors. Paproth said the competition has been keen with several players still vying for starting spots.
Mother Nature has not been kind during preseason workouts for the Lady Panthers, stalling repeated bids to face live pitching and participate in “live” fielding and running drills; however, all teams are in the same boat.
The O’Fallon girls will kickoff their spring season next Wednesday, March 18, when they host the Highland Bulldogs.