March 9, 2013
GALESBURG—Carl Sandburg College softball coach Todd Winkler likes the depth of his team this season, especially where it matters most.
“The game of softball is pitching, and last year we didn’t have enough of it,” said Winkler, whose team opens the season Saturday at Jefferson Davis (Ala.) before playing 11 games over the next six days in Pensacola, Fla. “This year I’ll have the luxury of being able to pop somebody else in. We probably can give somebody a new look every time we play them.”
Back for the Chargers is sophomore Brooke Howard (Farmington), who went 15-15 with a 2.61 ERA and 92 strikeouts in a team-leading 206 2/3 innings pitched last year.
“She’s motivated,” Winkler said of Howard. “Her goal is to get to nationals, and she’s going to get there, I think.”
Joining her in the circle will be sophomore Grace Cleair, a ROWVA High School graduate who transferred from Indian Hills (Iowa), as well as sophomore Shanon Kasap (LaSalle-Peru), freshman Hannah Johnson (Chillicothe Illinois Valley Central) and freshman left-hander Haily Huizenga (Erie).
Sandburg’s depth doesn’t end there. Winkler said he thinks the Chargers can go two and sometimes three deep at almost every position without much of a drop-off.
“If we have somebody who gets hurt, we can pop somebody in that spot and not lose a step,” he said. “When it gets to playoff time and crunch time, we should be pretty fresh.”
Freshmen Tygan Cole (Savanna West Carroll) and Kaylee Moseley (Rockridge) likely will split duties behind the plate. Sophomore Augusta Chandler (United) returns at first base, but freshman Lexa Mahr (Macomb) could see time there as well. Freshmen Corinne Heins (Lowpoint-Washburg), Erika Hulvey (Farmington) and Kelsey Hanlin (Spoon River Valley) figure to battle for playing time at second.
Freshman shortstop Jordyn Chasteen (Canton) and freshman third baseman Lorren Newingham (Pittsfield) likely will see a majority of the action on the left side of the infield. Sophomore Lindsay Lippert (LaSalle-Peru) returns to patrol center field while Johnson will see time in left, and Kasap and freshman Ally Cordle (Abingdon) should handle most of the duties in right.
“I think we’ll be able to hit the ball better than we did last year,” Winkler said. “I think we have some true hitters that are going to do something for us, and that’s going to help our pitching.”
The Chargers’ depth also will help them in late-game situations, Winkler said.
“I’ll have a couple pinch runners that can scoot around when I need them,” he said. “Last year I didn’t have a pinch runner when I needed one, and I really didn’t have a true kid to drag off the bench to get a key hit or a deep fly ball.”
Sandburg’s first home game is scheduled for 3 p.m. March 19 against Monmouth at the William “Bill” Hungate Baseball/Softball Complex. The Chargers return only four sophomores, but each was a regular contributor when healthy last season. Sandburg finished last season 28-33 but won 14 of its final 22 games and reached the Region IV tournament championship.
“We probably have more capability this year than we did last year,” Winkler said. “The sophomores are driven to get to nationals, and it’s a big goal for them. They’re confident that we can get there, and I hope we can back up their confidence. We’ve got the potential if we want to do it.”
2013 Carl Sandburg College softball team: Augusta Chandler, Jordyn Chasteen, Grace Cleair, Tygan Cole, Ally Cordle, Terra Eberle, Makenzie Frank, Whitney Freeman, Kelsey Hanlin, Corinne Heins, Brooke Howard, Haily Huizenga, Erika Hulvey, Hannah Johnson, Shannon Kasap, Lindsay Lippert, Lexa Mahr, Kaylee Moseley, Lorren Newingham, Kylie Stewart, Alexandria Weston, Tesha Woolley. Coach: Todd Winkler. Assistant coach: Katie King.