MHS softball aims to retool

These seniors will form a solid core for the Marion softball team this season: (from left) Tori Boyd, Taylor May, Taelyn Pagel, Emily Hague, Katelyn Christensen, Shelby Felvus, Paige May.
These seniors will form a solid core for the Marion softball team this season: (from left) Tori Boyd, Taylor May, Taelyn Pagel, Emily Hague, Katelyn Christensen, Shelby Felvus, Paige May.
The Marion softball team lost seven seniors to graduation and will rely on a core group of returners to anchor the team this year.

Last season, the War­riors finished with an 8-2 record in Heart of America league play, losing only to Ell-Saline.

Despite her team’s losses to graduation, fifth-year coach Jennifer Felvus said she expects her team to be competitive in league play this season.

Infield

Junior shortstop Kourt­ney Hansen, a first team all-league pick, is Marion’s sole returning infielder. Hansen batted .434 last season.

“Kourtney is going to be really key to leadership, and she’s going to have a lot more knowledge this year,” Felvus said. “Because she’s experienced in our team and our strategy, she’s going to be key to bringing others along.”

The Warriors will need to replace Kayla Kroupa at first base, Bailey Robson at second and Reann Hamm at third, all of whom spent time in mentoring roles last season, Felvus said.

On the corners, Taylor May, a senior, will move in from the outfield this season to play third base.

“Taylor has played some of the left side of the field on her travel ball team, so she’s not completely new to the left side of the field,” Felvus said. “We will miss her in the outfield. It was a hard decision to decide to bring her in, but the other thing you gain after being an outfielder for several years is that you have a different perspective of the field.”

Junior Lindsey Sigel is one of three players vying for time at first base.

“If I’ve got a couple girls who are going to be strong there, we may see one (in) Game 1 and one (in) Game 2,” Felvus said. “It’s a decision that I’m not completely sold on making yet because the other factor is, who’s got the bigger stick.”

Several Warriors competing for the starting nod at second base.

“I’m really trying to find the best fit and to rule out people who are going to be great outfielders for me and take them out of the mix first because we definitely need a strong outfield,” Felvus said.

Outfield

Marion will need to replace outfielders Kirsten Hansen and Shyla Harris this season. Felvus said her starting lineup is still fluid, but she will look to junior Alli Molleker and sophomore Tori Shults to anchor the outfield.

Senior Taelyn Pagel may contribute in the outfield or move to the infield, Felvus said, adding that sophomore Corrina Crabb is another option to add to the mix.

“We take reps everywhere right now, and I’ve been watching (Corrina), and I see a lot of great outfielder tendencies in her,” Felvus said. “She may find herself out there. So much is up in the air right now.”

Pitching

Senior Shelby Felvus will anchor the pitching staff. A first-team, all-league utility player last season, she batted .462. However, Coach Felvus said she would also like to get younger players into the game to gain experience on the mound.

Warriors expected to contribute innings include senior Emily Hague, Sigel and freshman Grace Overton.

“All four of them have varsity jerseys because of various other positions they can help us out at,” Felvus said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see all of them at some point.”

Catching

Senior Paige May returns for her fourth year behind the plate. She, along with Shelby Felvus on the mound, is expected to anchor the infield.

“We are anchoring our field with a mound of experience with her and Shelby, and it’s good for all of them,” Coach Felvus said. “(Paige) and Shelby are both great leaders and encouragers, and good at bringing their team along with them. They make people around them play better because they carry themselves in that way.”

Outlook

Despite the additional losses of designated player Elizabeth Meyer and utility player Sydney Baldwin, as well as the ongoing work to solidify role-players, with returners in key positions, Felvus is hopeful of good things in store.

“With Shelby and Paige still anchoring the infield, I think that’s a real positive thing, because in the three real anchor positions—shortstop, pitcher and catcher—we do have returners,” she said. “So I feel like it’ll still be strong and firm.”

Felvus said so far she is pleased with the way her team is swinging the bats.

“The bats are probably what made some of my JV/varsity decisions the most difficult,” she said. “I had some younger kids come out with some really strong bats.”

Felvus outlined a number of goals for the season, including bettering last year’s record and batting over .300 as a team.

“For us, our first goal is to better last year’s record, and then after that is, of course, to win regionals and go on to state,” Felvus said. “Then after that, it is to get a win at the state tournament.”

Marion was to open the season March 28 at Council Grove.

The Warriors will begin league play Friday at Inman.