MHS softball prepared to ?stay?

These seniors and letter-winners will form a solid core for the Marion softball team this season: front row (from left), Kirsten Hansen, Taylor?May, Shelby Felvus, Paige?May, Reann Hamm; back row, Kourtney Hansen, Bailey Robson, Kayla Kroupa, Elizabeth Meyer, Shyla Harris, Sydney Baldwin.
These seniors and letter-winners will form a solid core for the Marion softball team this season: front row (from left), Kirsten Hansen, Taylor?May, Shelby Felvus, Paige?May, Reann Hamm; back row, Kourtney Hansen, Bailey Robson, Kayla Kroupa, Elizabeth Meyer, Shyla Harris, Sydney Baldwin.
For the past few seasons, the Marion softball team has selected a word to encompass its goals for the year ahead.

Last year, that word was ?fire.? It was a season that saw Marion finish second in the Heart of America league with an 11-2 record and complete the season at 13-7 after a season-ending loss to Hess?ton in the regional quarterfinals.

Marion returns six starters this year and will look to improve upon last season?s accomplishments. They will do so under the direction of fourth-year coach Jennifer Felvus, using the mantra ?stay.?

?Just stay,? Felvus said. ?Just stay positive, stay confident, stay connected, stay committed and stay together, and we?re going to get there.?

Pitching, catching

Returning to anchor the team on the mound is ace Shelby Felvus, a junior this year and a first-team all-league infielder a year ago.

Felvus went 12-3 on the mound with an earned-run average of 4.15 over 103 innings. She gave up 116 runs (61 earned) and struck out 69 batters.

?Shelby handled the mound really well last year,? Coach Felvus said, adding that she once anticipates Felvus to throw a majority of innings this season.

Others who may see time on the mound include juniors Emily Hague and Taylor May and newcomer Corrina Crabb, a freshman.

Working behind the plate is returning starter Paige May, a junior.

?Paige proved to be a strong presence last year behind the plate keeping runners on their toes,? Felvus said. ?She?s got a great arm. (She) and Shelby have developed a connection over last year that really works for us.?

Infield

With the graduation of all-league honorable-mention shortstop Shayla Kline and middle infielder Julia Hall, Marion has done some shuffling in the infield.

Returning second baseman Bailey Robson, a senior, will move to shortstop this year.

?Bailey saw a little bit of time (at shortstop) last year as we shuffled around trying to figure out our best fit,? Felvus said. ?I think this year she?s ready to go and she?s ready to lead the field from the shortstop position.?

Meanwhile, sophomore Kourtney Hansen, who played in the outfield last year, will fill the void at second.

?We groomed her last year to be a middle infielder,? Felvus said. ?We played her (on) JV at shortstop to learn the concepts.?

Two returning seniors anchor the corners. Kayla Kroupa returns at first base, while Reann Hamm remains consistent at third.

?This is (Reann?s) fourth year,? Felvus said. ?Kayla at first is going on her third year. They bring a lot of leadership to the team.?

Outfield

Marion sustained some losses in the outfield, including Sam Davies in center field, Sheridyn Arterburn and Madison Stephen.

Taylor May returns with experience in the outfield and is expected to play left field this season. Senior Elizabeth Meyer returns with outfield experience. Both served designated player roles last year.

Newcomers Kirsten Hansen, a senior center fielder, and Alli Molleker, a sophomore right fielder, will be called upon to contribute.

Outlook

Felvus said she has depth to work with this season, leaving her confident for the upcoming season.

?I feel like there?s options beyond what I?m putting on the field, which is exciting,? she said. ?That?s a good thing when you have so many people you have to think about those things.

?I also think there?ll be some surprise power,? she added. ?I think girls have come a long way, even from last year, and the sticks are getting stronger, so a lot of hard work and obviously some commitment put in on the off-season with weights.?

League teams Felvus expects to be strong this year include Hutchinson Trinity, Ell-Saline, Sedgwick and Moundridge. She looks for a strong season for the Warriors as well.

Marion sustained a pair of season-opening losses at Chase County April 1. The Warriors were scheduled to play at Sedgwick April 5 and will travel to Bennington April 8.

Marion?s home-opener is April 12 versus Council Grove.