Last season the Waynesville High School softball team did something that they had never done before, win a district game and head coach Kelly Jackson is hoping to build on that for this season.
"We grew as a program over the year before, which led to us winning a district game against a very good Hillcrest team," said Jackson. "I think we are going to continue to grow from there. We have a young team, which is going to help us as well, since they will be around playing together for a few years."
That is something that Jackson is banking on since she graduated six players from last years team, including her top three hitters, Laurren Clayton, Sasha Whitlock and Laura Wood, and her entire left side of her infield.
"They were key losses to our team but we have girls that are stepping up for us," said Jackson. "We had some freshmen step up for us that are going to be able to move into those two spots for us."
Waynesville was 8-16 last season, including that first ever district win, and Jackson thinks that her team cam be even better this year, playing at .500 or above is one of her goals and she thinks that with the roster she has now she can accomplish that.
"One of our main goals is to play .500 this season, I think we can get that done," said Jackson. "Like I said we have a young team, but I think we are going to be very competitive this season. Our pitching is stronger, we have some freshman that are going to step up and play those roles for us, so one of our main goals is going to be a .500 season and .500 in conference."
Last season Waynesville hit .302 as a team, scoring 116 runs and driving in 94 runs, but Jackson thinks they can do better tis year and she knows that one freshman in particular can help her to get that done.
"I think Jordan Kane is going to be strong for us," said Jackson. "She is a freshman but she is coming along well. She has pitching experience and will be playing shortstop for us when she is not pitching. She is also one of our power hitters and she will be one to look out for for the next four years."
Besides Jordan, other players that are returning that saw some playing time last year on varsity are her sister Jessica Kane, Alexa Ochoa, Diamond Thomas, Lesley Larson, Savannah Davis and Katelynn Miller.
Pitching will also be better than it was last season. Waynesville had a team ERA of 5.26 last season but the Tigers are loaded with pitching and are ready to show the rest of the conference what they can do.
Because of that pitching and the new players that are coming up, Jackson is all smiles about this year's squad and can't wait to get out on the field and compete.
"We are going to have a quick outfield this year and we will have Lesley Larson playing third for us and I think we will be one of the teams to beat this season," said Jackson.
Waynesville will open up on Friday against a very strong Frisco League team in Crocker and will also play other Frisco League teams throughout the season including a trip to Iberia and a home contest against Dixon.
Here is the rest of the schedule for Waynesville.
8/24/2012 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Crocker High School Crocker
8/25/2012 Varsity Buffalo Tournament Buffalo
8/27/2012 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Hillcrest High School Springfield
8/30/2012 4:30 pm Var/J.V. West Plains High School Waynesville
8/31/2012 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Kickapoo High School Waynesville
9/5/2012 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Lebanon High School Waynesville
9/7/2012 5:00 pm Var/J.V. Iberia High School Iberia
9/11/2012 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Parkview High School Springfield
9/12/2012 5:00 pm Var/J.V. Dixon High School Waynesville
9/14/2012 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Salem High School Waynesville
9/17/2012 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Camdenton High School Waynesville
9/21/2012 – 9/22/2012 Varsity Springfield Tournament Springfield
9/24/2012 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Rolla High School Rolla
9/27/2012 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Glendale High School Springfield
9/29/2012 Var/J.V. Rolla Invitational Rolla
10/1/2012 4:30 pm Var/J.V. Joplin High School Joplin
10/2/2012 4:30 pm V/JVSt. James High School St. James
10/4/2012 – 10/6/2012 Varsity District Tournament TBA