To Shauna Friend, there’s a lot to like about this year’s Webb City High School softball team.
The Cardinals have a solid core back from last year’s squad that won 18 games and reached a district championship clash. And featuring seven seniors and six players with prior varsity experience, the Cardinals are off to a 5-1 start to the 2019 season.
“I like our team chemistry a lot,” Friend said after her team’s 13-3 win over Monett last Thursday. “The girls get along well. We’ve got some good senior leadership and that’s helped.”
After opening the 2019 campaign with a home win over the Cubs, the Cardinals won four out of five games at the Paige Neal/Christina Freeman Tournament over the weekend at the Joplin Athletic Complex. Webb City earned wins over Lamar (6-0), Carl Junction (6-3), Neosho (6-0) and Nevada (9-6) and lost to Rock Bridge (7-6).
Junior Haidyn Berry is the team’s No. 1 starter in the circle.
“Haidyn will handle most of the pitching,” Friend said. “She’s a strong pitcher and we’re confident she’ll lead the team well.”
Sophomore Emalee Lamar is another option in the circle.
Webb City’s starting lineup features senior center fielder Stacy Tyndall batting leadoff, with senior left fielder Keira Jackson and Berry batting second and third, respectively. In 2018, Tyndall had a .494 batting average with 29 RBI, while Berry hit .460 with 27 RBI and Jackson batted .386.
The cleanup hitter is senior catcher Taylor Harris, with sophomore right fielder Kaylyn Gilbert hitting fifth and senior third baseman Karson Culver in the No. 6 hole. Culver hit .398 last year with 29 RBI. Harris and Culver both hit home runs in the team’s win over Carl Junction.
Junior Alyssa Jennings plays second base and hits seventh. She hit .323 in ’18 and homered against Lamar this past weekend.
Sophomore Peyton Hawkins starts at shortstop and bats eighth, while senior Reanna Blinzler hits ninth and plays first base. Hawkins also saw time in the circle.
Senior Kiley Crandall and sophomores Morgan Brannon, Shelby Gardner, Emma Welch and Lauren Hicks are other players who have seen varsity action thus far.
Senior infielder/outfielder Darcy Darnell is currently out of action due to an injury.
“We’re going to miss Darcy, but we’ve had some younger girls step in and fill those shoes,” Friend said.
Friend noted the expectations are high this fall.
“This team has a lot of potential and we’re hoping to reach it by the end of the season,” said Friend, who is assisted by Kathy Harris and Caleb Wheeler. “We’re looking forward to a fun season.”
Webb City (5-1) hosts Joplin (0-6) at 4:30 this afternoon.