MANLIUS — There is no shortage of young talent on the Bureau Valley softball roster this season.
Storm coach Brian Humphrey has five underclassmen penciled in to this season’s starting lineup and although there are only four seniors on the roster, they too will play a major part on this year’s squad.
“We are going to be relatively young this year with five starters being either freshmen or sophomores, but our young players are not inexperienced,” said Humphrey, now in his eighth season as varsity coach. “They put in a lot of time in the offseason and have a lot of experience against quality competition in their ASA seasons.
“We have some good leadership in our seniors as Brandi DeWaele and Emily Phillips are four-year starters and Susan Brummel played varsity some as a sophomore and started all last year.”
Phillips, who will join her sister, Anna, at Trinity Christian College next year, will set the table for the Storm as the leadoff hitter. Her .485 batting average ranked fourth on the BCR leaderboard last year and she was tied for first overall with 31 stolen bases.
“She will set the table for us with her speed and will have the green light on the base paths,” said Humphrey. “She covers so much ground for us at second and basically takes away that side of the infield.”
Phillips’ younger sister, Ashley, will get the call up to the varsity roster as a freshman and will hit third in the lineup. She can play shortstop, center field and catcher. Unlike her older sisters, Ashley bats from the right side and Humphrey calls her swing “one of the sweetest he’s seen in his years of coaching.”
The Kepner twins, Darcy and Dana, also have been called up as freshmen. They will make up the battery when Darcy pitches.
Irini Petros will also spend time in the pitcher’s circle when she is not playing first base. Petros has a strong bat too, hitting .321 last year as a freshman. Caitlyn Scott is the other sophomore on the roster. She starts in the outfield and brings another big stick to the lineup.
Humphrey calls DeWaele “a rock at third base” and because of her excellent bunting skills she is expected to hit second behind the older Phillips. Brummel can play all three outfield positions and should have a strong year at the plate.
Ali Fairbanks is the other senior on the roster and Humphrey says the juniors are still being evaluated, led by outfielder Shannon Reuter and utility player Lacey DeVenney. Kalie Rumbold, Shelby Weborg, Alissa Stoller, and Michelle Vainowski make up the rest of the roster.
After a solid season last year that saw them almost pull off a regional upset over Rock Falls, losing 1-0, the Storm have high hopes for 2013.
“Our team should be very competitive this year,” said Humphrey, whose team finished 14-14 overall and 7-7 in the Three Rivers Conference last year. “We shouldn’t have a problem scoring runs against most pitchers. It’s going to come down to pitching and defense.”
“We want to be in the upper half of the conference and finish the season with a .500 or better record.”
The Storm have had its first two games of the season cancelled this week, targeting a March 20 home game with Hall as its 2013 debut.