STANTON — The Central Montcalm girls softball team is coming off its first ever district title.
Despite some key losses, the Hornets expect to be competitive again this season with the return of a solid nucleus.
“While we are a very young team, many of the girls coming up through the system have travel ball experience,” coach Jason Johnston said. “I believe they can step in and play right away. I expect our team to be competitive this year.”
Returning letter winners for the Hornets are Karli Clark (3B), Kortney McKeown (2B), Alex Barnwell (OF) and Molly Buskirk (1B). All are seniors.
“Our four seniors are the nucleus of our team,” Johnston said. “They provide us with solid leadership and set a good example for the rest of the team. We will rely heavily on the throughout the season.”
McKeown hit .339 last year with 31 RBI and five home runs. She was voted to the CSAA second team.
Key losses include Isabelle Williams (P), Annabelle Williams (C), Reena Jensen (SS), Danielle Chapin (2B), Emily Christensen (1B) and Kate Main (RF).
With the loss of Isabelle Williams the Hornets will need improved pitching.
“Our key area of improvement this year will be pitching,” Johnston said. “We have some young girls this year that will have to shoulder the majority of the pitching load for us this season.”
The Hornets went 22-12 overall. The defeated Morley Stanwood for the district title before falling to Leroy Pine River 1-0 in the regional semifinals.
“While we are featuring several young players at key positions this year, we don’t plan to stand aside for anyone,” Johnston said. “We have a great group of motivated players who are willing to work to make this year a success.”
Johnston said the CSAA features several good teams to compete against.
“I believe that the league will be highly competitive this season,” he said. “Several teams are returning solid squads this year, which should keep it interesting all year long.”
The Hornets open the season April 9 at Saranac. They travel to Lakeview on April 13.