Twelve players are vying for spots on the Lady Longhorn softball team as the season kicks off already on Tuesday. Aug. 25.
While numbers are down from last season, 12 compared to 21, Coach Denise Smith said all 12 were on the team last year so experience will be increased.
“We have a lot of players returning to their familiar positions this year,” Smith said.
That’s a bit unlike last season when a big freshman class were adjusting to the field, she said.
“Our confidence level is better with a year of experience. Being a year older, some of this will make more sense to them,” she said.
There are no freshmen on the roster this season, so numbers out were impacted by the loss of six graduated seniors from last year’s team, which finished as the Class C-6 District runner-up.
Another player moved and others chose not to compete this season, Smith added.
On the roster are seven sophomores, four juniors and one senior.
Now into their second week of practice, Smith said she is seeing the versatility of her team, as well.
“These girls can play multiple positions. We have a good group of utility players,” she said.
That will be important with the lower numbers.
She also sees team speed as a big plus this season. When reaching base, the girls will be able to utilize that, she said.
While they try to “hit everything” before the first contest, Smith said how the Lady Longhorns will do at the plate often is an unknown.
She said it’s hard to know what kind of pitching they’ll face from their opponents. “Until we get into a game, we won’t know that,” she said.
After a week of conditioning Aug. 3-7, the team had practice from 7 to 11 a.m. last week, with a break in between.
This week, the team is practicing its regular, after-school times.
Sara Brandner of Imperial is the new assistant coach this season, replacing Jason Speck, who was with the CCS softball program since it started in 2000. He served both as a head and assistant coach in the past.
Brandner, who works at Pinnacle Bank, played softball in Colorado during high school, three years at Wray and her senior year in Yuma.
At least half of Chase County’s games will be at home this season, Smith noted.
However, their first two next week are on the road, both of them varsity triangulars hosted by So. Valley/Alma.
On Tuesday, Blue Hill will also be in the triangular which starts at 3 p.m. MT. Next Thursday, Aug. 27, Grand Island Central Catholic will be the third team in the triangular. Chase County’s first game starts at 4:30 p.m. MT.
Chase County plays their home opener on Tuesday, Sept. 1, when they host Holyoke, Colo., for a pair of varsity double-headers at Schroeder Park.
The first JV game will come on Sept. 4, when the Lady Longhorns host Perry, Okla., for a JV/varsity pair.
Chase County will again be in the C-6 District, but it will include some new teams this season, Smith noted.
Cozad will host the tournament Oct. 8-9. Other teams in the C-6 District with Chase County include Chadron, Minden, Ord and So. Valley/Alma. Ord is a first-year softball program.
Here is the roster of Chase County players by class:
Juniors—Brittanie Benge, Brittany Simeon, Sarah Allen, Destiny Reinke, Katelyn Wheeler, Josie Peterson, Megan Engbrecht.
Sophomores—Jade Allen, Sydney Vetter, Whitney Hopp, Andrea Page.