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By LARRY GOFFINET
LEOPOLD—With eight starters back from a team that set the school record for wins last year, Perry Central’s girls softball team could challenge for its first PLAC title this year.
The Commodores went 11-11 last year, the first .500 record in the team’s 10-year history.
“I think our defense will be really strong,” said Perry Central Coach Mark Roth-gerber. “Everybody coming back knows what to do.”
He also thinks their pitching will be strong.
Junior Miranda Claise returns after going 10-9 with a 1.80 ERA last year, school records for wins and ERA.
“She’s got several more pitches this year,” said Rothgerber. “She’s got a screwball and a curve, and her change-up is getting better all the time.”
Rothgerber said senior Ashley Guillaume is the team’s No. 2 pitcher.
Senior Brooke Litherland returns at catcher.
The infield will be Guillaume at third base, Morgan Richardson at shortstop, Hannah Edwards at second, and Sydney Goffinet at first.
All but Edwards started at those positions last year, and Edwards started at shortstop late in the season when Richardson was sidelined with mononucleosis.
Edwards “played a lot of travel ball last summer,” said Rothgerber. “She’s improved a bunch.”
In the outfield Lexi Aders returns in left field, Brittany Parker in center, and Heather Hendricks in right.
But two freshmen who are “looking really good,” Autumn Lain and Madison Guillaume, are pushing them, said Rothgerber.
Due to inclement weather this spring, the Commodores have practiced outdoors only four times. But from what he has seen, Rothgerber expects the team’s hitting to be “average or above average this year.
“It should be better than last year. They’re starting to lay off the high stuff more.”
Goffinet hit .418 with a school-record 17 RBIs last year. Ashley Guillaume also hit over .400 and Litherland drove in 17 runs.
Richardson hit .289 with a team-high four home runs (two inside the park). She and Goffinet each stole a school-record 10 bases.
Richardson and Parker “are really quick,” said Rothgerber. He also said Casey James and Lea Harbaville “could do some courtesy running” on the varsity because they are among the fastest on the JV.
Richardson will bat leadoff again. Ashley Guillaume, Litherland and Goffinet will follow to give the team a strong top half of the order.
Edwards, Richardson and Parker are the team’s top bunters, said Rothgerber.
About the only thing this team seems to lack is confidence. “I don’t think they believe in themselves as much as they should,” said Rothgerber.
He believes “we have the potential to win” the PLAC.
They finished fifth in the seven-team conference with a 3-3 record last year.
“Paoli’s always tough and Orleans always seems to be near the top,” said Rothgerber. “But I think we would have to be in the top three—there’s no reason for us not to be.”
The Commodores lost 4-2 to eventual champion South Spencer in their Class 2A sectional last year. This year Rothgerber thinks they can also contend for that title “if everything goes well and everybody stays healthy.
“We would have to hit the ball well and our pitching needs to stay strong and hit spots.”