3/14/2017 5:36:00 PM Wilmington softball looking to find rhythm early
by Brent Sumner Staff writer
Wilmington's varsity softball team has never been known to back down from any opponent in the Interstate Eight.
The Lady Wildcats often finish among the top teams in the conference, although this year there are questions caused by several voids left from graduating seniors.
The team will be coached by Jack Skole, who is entering his 18th year. He will be assisted by Floyd Combes, Kate Welsh and Michelle Combes.
"We lack experience this year, having to replace seven positions from last year, including our starting pitcher," said Skole. "It will be a difficult task. However, I feel we have a lot of potential, and hopefully we can find a rhythm early on."
Wilmington finished with an overall record of 19-12 last year (12-5 conference), and wound up falling in the Regional final to Reed-Custer, 5-4.
The biggest void will be the departure of four-year starter Miranda Southall. She owned the mound like no other and was a threat every time she stepped up to the plate.
However, the Lady Wildcats will have four starting seniors returning, and hopefully they can make an impact as the opener draws near.
One key returning player will be Lorri Kucharski, who split time on the mound last year, and was also a viable threat at the plate. She will also see time at first base.
Justine Reents will also see more time in the pitcher's circle with the departure of Southall.
Reents has shown consistency at the pitching spot, and with the combination of her and Kucharski, the Lady Wildcats might be in good shape.
Two other seniors returning will be Emma Hafner (infield/outfield) and Mickaela Tworek (outfield).
Kiley Sowa will also be back, as a sophomore, and will find time in the catcher role, as well as infield.
The goals for the Lady Wildcats include posting a winning record, be in the top three of a very competitive I-8 Southern Division, as well as make a strong run in the post season.
The varsity team will find help reaching those goals in the form of incoming new players.
The new players will be relied on heavily to fill the holes that the seven graduating seniors left at the end of last year.
Three juniors will make their debut with varsity, including Mollie Beckman (catcher), Grace Cooper (outfield) and Aubrey Sinchak (outfield). They will be joined by a freshman second baseman Bella Egizio.
The Lady Wildcats are in a position to play the spoilers this year. There's little doubt they'll face teams with more experience, but Skole is a good coach who knows a few tricks or two.
Wilmington was set to start their season Tuesday, but snowfall canceled the opener.
The Lady Wildcats are scheduled to play Joliet West at home on Saturday, weather permitting, and will follow that up with a road game against Momence on Monday.
The Lady Wildcats will have a winding road ahead of them, full of tough competition.
Herscher, Reed-Custer and Streator will all be top opponents, returning a solid core of starters, along with their notorious strong pitching.
Wilmington should be in good standings come posts eason, and hopefully they can make another run for a Regional title.