2019 Bobcat Softball Preview (03/18/2019)

(By CSZ Sports Writer Kenn Staub)  Like the season, the Clarion Bobcat softball team is young. Head coach Dan Shofestall returns a mere six players, only two of whom are seniors, from last year’s 11-6 squad that advanced to the District 9 quarterfinals.

Tori Vega takes a swing.

So far Shofestall has been pleased with the progress his young charges have made in the preseason, saying, “Our goal is every night to come out of practice one percent better than what we went in. We look for team growth every night, growing as a team together. They’re working very hard every night. And they’re a fun group to coach and they listen well and we’re really happy with the girls we have.”

As with any young squad, questions abound. In this case, the biggest questions surround who is going to play where.

“We’re young experience-wise. Every position is up for grabs, so early on now we’re just battling for positions,” said Shofestall.

He continued, “Everyone’s competing. I know that’s not much of a story, but that’s the way it is right now. The more positions you can play the more valuable you are to the team. And so we’re working the girls out in a lot of different areas, different spots on the field. We’re not only looking for their primary spot, but their back-up spot.”

Kaitlyn Constantino in the circle.

Presently Shofestall feels set at pitcher and catcher, saying, “Pitching will definitely be our strength, depth-wise and skill-wise. Same with our catching.”

“Pitching is coming along very nice, we like what we see so far. We’re making daily progress there, we’re getting better and better. You know we feel until we get our defense established behind our pitching, we’re looking for pitching to be our strong point in the year,” noted Shofestall.

Junior Kaitlyn Constantino will assume the role of staff ace. Last season she posted a 3-2 record, striking out 46 in 32 innings of work. Also getting looks in the circle are freshmen Payton Simko, Noel Anthony, and Kylee Beers.

Constantino also served as the team’s lead-off hitter a year ago, batting .466 and compiling a .563 on-base percentage (OBP). She drove in 13 and scored a team leading 25 runs in 17 games.

Shofestall has identified junior Tori Vega, sophomore Brenna Campbell, and freshman Jordan Best as possible backstops. In 13 games Vega put together a .286 average and .545 on-base percentage (OBP), driving in six runs. Campbell batted .545 and had a .636 OBP, both team highs, plating 16 runs in 17 games.

Lindsey Kemmer at the plate.

At the plate, Shofestall reported, “Hitting is coming along. They’ve worked very hard at it, they ask intelligent questions. They take pride in their hitting and that’s what we like. I see hitting getting better every night.”

In 16 games senior Carly Best hit .362 and drove in 13 runs, while classmate Lindsey Kemmer batted .333 in 14 contests. Ava Kiser, a sophomore, played in seven games, batting .500 and knocking in two.

Freshman MaKenzie Aaron and Jordan Best will also be seeking playing time and plate appearances.

Shofestall knows his team is a work in progress and has set goals commensurate with that, explaining, “We’re trying to work on being a tougher team to beat this year. Doing things that will make us tougher to beat. Working on things like that… We want to get better at base running. We want to bet better at communication, talking in the field, that’s always big. Doing the little things better. You know we work on them every year, but we want to continue to work on them and continue to get better in those areas. We’re young, trying to build confidence in ourselves and everything we do.”

This season Shofestall is assisted by Randy Reynolds, John Stroup, Dave Constantino, Kaitlin Wenner, and Matt Best.

The Bobcats are scheduled to open the regular season with a road game at Franklin on Wednesday, March 27.

(featured image of Carly Best)

(photographs courtesy of Kim Constantino, republication of article only by author’s permission)