If the weather and field conditions cooperate, the East Central College softball Falcons will open their season at home Monday afternoon.
Brad Wallach’s team is scheduled to host Lewis & Clark Community College in a 2 p.m. doubleheader.
“We’re really excited to get started,” Wallach said. “We feel like we can send out good pitchers and surround them with a strong defense. We also believe we can put nine good hitters in our lineup and still have more in the dugout. If we keep working hard and stay relatively healthy, we’ve got a chance to be good.”
The team has a bit of a new look with eight freshmen and one redshirt sophomore on the roster.
Five sophomores who saw action last year return, and two of them start the season on the injured list.
Wallach reported Taylor Ruth (Owensville) and Marge Barger (Kennedy) are out to start the season. Ruth is recovering from shoulder surgery Jan. 2 and Barger is coming back from a shoulder injury suffered during weight training.
That means freshmen could have an even bigger role at the beginning of the season.
The other returning sophomores who played last season are Kori Fiedler (Union), Marissa Boyd (Union) and Seely Friend (Newburg). Additionally, Jamie Kluba (St. Francis Borgia Regional) is back after sitting out last season following knee surgery.
The Falcons have a completely new pitching staff this spring. Freshman Maya Street (Clopton) will be the top starter going into the season.
“Maya Street has had the most success and experience prior to ECC,” Wallach said. “She will enter the season as our No. 1 pitcher.”
Freshmen Mackenzie Altenthal (Woodland) and Madelyn Webb (Wright City) are vying for the second spot.
“They may rotate starts, or if one of them emerges, the other could be primarily relief,” Wallach said.
Kaylynn McKee (Bowling Green) is another option at the position.
Behind the plate, the Falcons have to replace standout Jordan Crenshaw (Canton).
Friend, who moves from third base, and freshman Lauren Grunwaldt (Orchard Farm) will rotate behind the plate to start the season. Friend batted .307 last season.
At first base, Fiedler, a high school outfielder, returns to the spot. She hit .295 last spring. Street also will play at first when not pitching.
Wallach said freshmen Mallory Feldewerth (Bowling Green) and Alyssa Moore (Kelly) likely will rotate at second base and shortstop to start the season. The Falcons had a platoon system at second base last season while Megan Micke (Washington) was the team’s top hitter at .398 with six home runs at shortstop.
Friend will get a chance to play third base when she’s not behind the plate. McKee also is slated to play the hot corner.
To start the season in the outfield, Katie Gaus (Canton) is scheduled to be in left field. Boyd, a .388 batter with four home runs last season, will be in center with Kluba in right. Kluba hit .328 with seven home runs during the 2017 season.
Wallach indicated Street and Fiedler also are options for the outfield when they’re not playing other positions.
East Central will continue its homestand against Kaskaskia College Wednesday before going to play North Arkansas College Tuesday, March 12, in Lebanon.
East Central returns home to host Culver-Stockton’s JV team Thursday, March 14.