New-look 59ers eye another run
Updated: March 28, 2011 9:38AM
Is it ever a rebuilding year for Andrean in softball?
Most say the 59ers only retool, and that could be the case this season, but second-year head coach Henry Ryan will have his work cut out for him.
After reaching semistate, the 59ers have to replace a pair of all-state players (Audrey Bickel and Alyssa Moseley), as well as role players Julie Hoolehan, Jackie Gonzalez and Morgan Moseley, who transferred to Lake Central.
They return all-state catcher Kelly Ryan, pitcher Nicole Steinbach and infielder Meghan Bridgeman, so the cupboard's definitely not bare. Another postseason run for the defending NCC champs is likely.
Lowell will be led by a new coach for the first time in more than 20 years after Pete Iussig retired. He's replaced by Ginger Britton, who might have her work cut out for her more than Ryan at Andrean.
The Red Devils have only one starter returning - Morgan O'Hanlon. Britton calls her squad "young and aggressive." They'll need a little more than that to compete with the NCC's best.
That includes Munster, which will be a tough matchup for opposing pitchers. The Mustangs return plenty of hitting, including all-state outfielder Angelique Zadrozny (.495, .905 slg., 41 RBI, 7 HR) and Kori Kirby (.378, 16 RBI). What coach Beth Thornburg does have to worry about is pitching. It's the first season in a while that Munster doesn't have an experienced starter in the circle.
Griffith coach Ed McLeod shouldn't have to worry about pitching with two-time all-conference hurler Alex Latronica back after a 2.61 ERA and 182 strikeouts last season. And she should have more help around her. In addition to newcomers Rhiannon Cox and Erica Yost, most of the returners are young, but experienced varsity players who should be better.
The Panthers should be ready to challenge for a sectional by the end of the season after losing to Kankakee Valley in last year's sectional.
Speaking of the Kougars, they are coming off an emotional postseason that was preceded by the death of teammate Taylor Cavinder in a car accident. It was a good season on the field (14-11) and much of the core is back for KV, including pitcher Ashley Dobson, who also hit .365, and all-conference shortstop Hillary Hoffman (.379, 23 RBI).
"Dobson's pitching and our strong defense will give the big bats in the lineup the opportunity to get our share of victories," veteran coach Brian Flynn (18th year at KV) said.
In her third year as Hobart's head coach, Katrina Lucas is optimistic things are headed in the right direction for a team that didn't win a conference game last season.
Returning for the Brickies is shortstop Abby Adams (.373, .675 slg.), who will be playing at Samford University next year. Besides Hobart's best hitter coming back, the team's starting pitcher for the last two years in Jaclyn Sandilla and junior catcher Kaleigh Spencer also return.