The Palmyra softball team found success a season ago, but first-year coach Jill Arch felt the team didn’t reach its full potential.
With eight of nine starters returning, Arch hopes another year of experience will push the Lady Panthers over the hump.
The Lady Panthers coach mentioned one key strength of the team will be starting pitchers Alana Comstock and Lauren VanTress, both who pitched last season.
“Both of them can be very dominant,” Arch said. “They both have a lot of experience as both have pitched since their freshman year.”
Comstock missed some action last season due to health and battling sickness. Arch said the junior is starting this season healthy.
“We are hoping to see more good things from her this season with her being healthy from the start,” the Lady Panthers coach said.
The hurlers will be aided by veteran backstop Brooke Wilson. The senior is not only an asset to the pitching staff but the entire team, according to Arch.
“She is just a great leader,” the coach said of Wilson. “She knows what’s going on, where everyone needs to be at all times in any situation. She is just a major asset to our entire team.”
Sophomore Bailey Lovelace will once again be the Lady Panthers starting shortstop.
“Bailey did some really good things last season,” Arch said. “It took her a little while to get going but her hitting really took off towards the end of the season.”
Megan Stone, who earned a starting position towards the middle of the season last year, will be the Lady Panthers second baseman.
Baylee Anderson moves in from the outfield and will hold down one of the corner infield spots at first. Arch describes Anderson as a “power hitter” at the plate.
Lexi Arch will be at the hot corner, a position the junior has played since her freshman campaign.
“She really knows the position well and is experienced in some big games,” the coach said.
In the outfield the Panthers will have Alyssa Loman in left field and senior Grace Watson patrolling in center.
“Grace has started in center since her sophomore year and is super fast,” Arch said. “She is also pretty good with the bat.”
The only hole Arch is still looking to fill is in right field. Junior Morgan Ingram is expected to miss some time due to a shoulder injury.
One possible replacement for Ingram will be freshman Sophie Hoerr.
“She is super fast and did a lot of good things for us in camp this summer,” the Lady Panthers coach said. “She is not super strong, but she sees the ball well and does a good job of putting the ball in play.”
Sophomore Cameron O’Brien will be another pitching option for the Lady Panthers, while junior Ashley Lay is battling through knee injuries but could be an option as a designated hitter.
Arch mentioned offense will be the major key to the Lady Panthers' success this season.
“If we can get on base and score some runs I don’t think we are going to have many issues this season,” Arch stated. “And we were able to do that well this summer. We play in a tough conference and district, but if we can score I think we can be right there in the running for a conference and district championship.”
Running will also be a vital part of the offense, which is an area Arch feels the team failed to fully capitalize on a season ago.
“We just didn’t use our speed good enough,” the coach said. “We need to focus on taking the extra base when we can. We have a lot of speed on the team but the girls seemed to second-guess themselves a lot last year. We need to be more comfortable in those situations this year.”
Palmyra opens the season Aug. 18 in the Troy Tournament.