MANLIUS — It all starts with pitching and defense for the Bureau Valley softball team this year.
Returning five of their top seven hitters from last season, Storm coach Brian Humphrey believes his team will be able to score enough runs to stay competitive. The key will be how his pitching progresses with another year of varsity experience.
Junior Irini Petros (3.13 ERA last season) and sophomore Darcy Kepner (4.46 ERA) will be the two main hurlers, and Humphrey said he wants to give both an equal amount of innings this year.
“We want our pitchers to hit their spots, throw strikes and let the defense play behind him,” Humphrey said. “If we can limit our walks this year, we should be in a lot of games and give ourselves a chance to win.”
Both Petros and Kepner are strong with the bat too. Petros will play first or third base when not pitching and Kepner can play shortstop. Darcy’s twin sister, Dana, is another returning starter. She will do a lot of catching, but can see some time at first base or the outfield.
Ashley Phillips is the top returning hitter for the Storm after posting a .306 batting average as a freshman last season. Her versatility allows her to play second base, shortstop, catcher and some outfield. The Phillips family is rich in softball talent, graduating two sisters already from BV, and eighth-grader Laura set to join the team next year. Their father, Bill, is an assistant coach for the Storm.
“Unfortunately we only have one Phillips sister on the squad this year,” Humphrey joked. “She’s a different model of Phillips’ player than we’re used to as she hits from the right side and is a slugger as opposed to a slapper. She’s still got the Phillips’ speed though, and I anticipate a big year from her.”
Junior Caitlin Scott started all last season in the outfield and according to Humphrey had a real good summer in the Morrison league. She is penciled in as the No. 3 or 4 hitter in the lineup.
Seniors Shannon Reuter, Shelby Weborg and Lacey DeVenney all saw playing time last year and will have expanded roles this year.
Kalie Rumbold, Jehna Thomas, Carlie Bickett, Ashley Geunther, Taylor Lally and newcomer Shayanne Schindel round out the roster. Sidney Kolb, a sophomore, will get called up when there is no freshman/sophomore game scheduled.
“There should be a lot of playing time to go around, and we will be giving everyone a chance early in the season to prove themselves,” Humphrey said.
Humphrey believes a .500 record, after a 7-10 season last year, would be a reachable goal and a step forward. He said there are no easy games on the schedule with the expansion of the Three Rivers Conference this year.
“We are going to have to be ready to compete every game and hopefully we can be in the mix,” Humphrey said.
Notes: Former MLB all-star Dan Kolb will return as freshman/sophomore coach for the Storm.