3/7/2017 5:53:00 PM Lady Comets are thinking big this season
by Brent Sumner Staff writer
Might this be the year the Reed-Custer varsity softball team gets over the sectional hump?
The Lady Comets came up just short of winning a Sectional Championship last year, falling to Peotone, 4-1. They've won two Regional titles in the past three years to reach the sectional round where they've stalled.
But this year, the Lady Comets are being told to think big, as in either winning a Super Sectional or State championship as they have the talent to do it.
"In my tenure, we have struggled to get to that next step, Rosemont or Super Sectional," said Reed-Custer head coach Ramsey Harkness. "Between that and doing better in conference, as we have hovered near the bottom at .500 each of the last three years, has to be two big picture goals."
The Lady Comets completed 2016 with an overall record of 20-13 (8-8 conference). That winning outcome and title game loss in the sectional championship was achieved by three premiere players who are make with a vengence.
Kenna Wilkey will be entering her final year with the Lady Comets before continuing her pitching career at Northwestern University.
Wilkey finished last season with a 1.575 ERA with 273 strikeouts. She is also a threat at the plate with batting average of .485 with 26 RBIs and five home runs.
She will be backed up in the pitcher's circle by Mackenzie Collier, who also finds time in the outfield.
Collier earned a 2.05 ERA last season with 96 strikeouts, while also adding to the offense with a .264 batting average, 23 RBIs and one home run.
One other senior bringing some veteran experience to the line-up will be third-basemen Georgia Votta.
Votta has been a consistent glove down the left line, and will also bring some skill to the plate, holding a .253 battering average from last year with seven RBIs.
Along with the three seniors, the Lady Comets will welcome sophomore pitcher and first-basemen Antoinette Hill.
She will be joined by two juniors: Catcher/second base Haley Mazon and outfielder Emily Wolf.
"We bring back a very powerful pitching staff that only gets stronger with the addition of Antoinette Hill," said Harkness. "We are juggling a lineup that has been pretty stable the last couple years. So, getting players in the right spot in the batting order will be our main focus in the beginning."
The Lady Comets will kick off their season on March 20, when they host Gardner-South Wilmington. In fact, Reed-Custer will have a pretty long stint before hitting the road, playing six games at the Comet diamond before traveling to the Providence Tournament on March 30/April 1.
Following the Providence Tournament, Reed-Custer will then get into the heart of their schedule, conference action.
The conference will be tough again this year with Herscher and Streator having solid rosters, while Coal City and Wilmington always put up a tough fight.
"Herscher has great pitching and offense, and Streator has tough pitching and are very well coached," said Harkness. "Herscher moved back down to 2A this year and have one thing on their mind. As for playoff area, Beecher is always well coached and focused. Taylor Johnson is a force to be reckoned with."
Streator will also return one of their top pitchers, Maggie McGurk, while Herscher will have two strong arms in the circle, Morgan Scivally and Kayleigh Post.
While the conference may be tough, it gives the Lady Comets plenty of experience and challenges to help prepare them for the playoffs where the season truly matters.
Harkness will be hoping to not only earn another Regional title, but hopefully continue that stretch into Rosemont.
"I expect many tough battles throughout the season with many tight games," he said. "It's going to be a great season. Go Comets!"