With just one starter lost to graduation, the Cardinal softball team has high hopes for the 2015 season.
The young Huskies won just two games in 2014 but already have shown signs they’ll start the new campaign with more confidence than the played with last season.
“We had a rough year last year but now we are working together a lot better this year now that we know each other. I believe this is going to be a fun and great season,” said Cardinals second-year coach Dennis Ikeler. “I think the team is coming together really well this year now that we know each other. I believe we are going to have a much better season this year and I am expecting big things from the whole team.”
One of Ikeler’s biggest challenges is keeping the Huskies from losing confidence during rough stretches of the season.
“Staying positive this year is going to be a big key,” he said. “I think the only real weakness we have this year would be if we let that old bug back in about getting down on ourselves. All the girls have been working on that problem.”
The Huskies have shown improvement in every other area as well.
Of course it all starts in the circle where senior Jasmine Vunak returns after being named honorable mention all-Chagrin Valley Conference last season.
“Jas has worked during the off season and has improved,” Ikeler said. “A big goal is to stay healthy and focus on spots this year.”
Senior Courtney Ellis will spell Vunak at times. She can also play in the outfield.
Junior Haley Adams returns behind the dish for a second straight season. She also was named honorable mention all-CVC.
“Haley is a strong player and will give it her all 100-percent of the time,” Ikeler said. “We need to keep her healthy because she is an all-around player and can play anywhere I need her.”
|Ashleigh Shepard was second team all-conference in 2014|
Cardinal’s middle infielders, seniors Ashleigh Shepard and Jess Koches, could be among the best in the CVC Valley Division.
Shepard was named second team all-CVC last season at second base and Koches is among the league’s top shortstops.
“Ashleigh is a very strong infielder and plays the spot very well. I am expecting some big games from her this year,” Ikeler said. “Jess is a very strong player and plays with a lot of heart. She has improved from last year and I am expecting a lot of big games from this year.”
Sophomores Dawn Scribben and Megan Baril will round out the infield. Scribben will start at first base and Baril is a returning starter at third.
“This is Dawn's first year starting at first but she can handle the spot very well. I think she will be a key player both sides of the game,” Ikeler said. “Megan is a very strong third base player and proved that last year. I expect her to be even stronger this year in the field and at the plate.”
Cardinal’s outfield will be filled by a trio of seniors.
Ameleya Loeser moves to left field from the right side and Lexy Fenselon will start in center field. Faith Brown will start in right after missing most of the 2014 season with an injury.
“Ameleya is moving from right field to left this year because of her arm and learning more of the game; also her bat has improved this year,” Ikeler said. “Lexy is moving to center this year because of her speed and good glove. She is working real hard on hitting also. (Faith) is working real hard to get everything back up to speed.”
Sophomores Delaney Leichtman, Allissa Nevison and Christina Pemberton also will contribute for the Huskies this season.
The Huskies open the season at Riverside on Monday, March 30.