After an 8-12 season last year under first-year coach Angie Heiser with a very young group of players, the 2020 Putnam County softball team is ready to get after it and get back to the program’s winning ways.
“This is kind of our bounce back season,” Heiser said. “Last year we had 10 players and we had a lot of obstacles as far as injuries and finding the right combinations on the field and best lineup that worked for us. Losing in regionals by one run really left us hungry for more.”
One thing the Lady Panthers feel they have are three strong seniors to help lead the four freshmen and five sophomores that Putnam County will feature.
“I want to see us win a regional,” senior Shayla Arroyo said. “I like that there are three seniors because we are pretty close group and it’s easier for the younger girls to find us and feel comfortable coming to us and asking questions and getting better”
Senior Savannah Tucker feels the underclassmen bring a lot to the table.
“We do have a lot of underclassmen, but I think they have a lot more talent than we have in the past,” Tucker said. “We may only have three upperclassmen, but I think we have a lot of talent on this team and we are looking forward to showing it.”
The Lady Panthers are also back to playing in Class 1A this season as apposed to 2A in 2019, which the Lady Panthers are also happy about.
“I think that will help us this year as well,” Heiser said. “That’s where I think we’re most comfortable with our size school. I’m a little more optimistic about our chances than I was last year.”
Morgan Hundley returns for the Lady Panthers with a solid bat and a ton of speed on the bases to cause havoc on the defense.
Tucker will take over in the circle in her fourth year at the varsity level.
“With the pitching that we have had in the past, Savannah has not had a lot of chances to showcase her talents,” Heiser said. “She’s going to have a chance to show what she can do. She pitched in junior high and sparingly in high school, but I think she’s going to be big for us.”
Arroyo is back after playing her freshman year and then taking a couple years off and can play multiple positions of the Lady Panthers.
After learning the speed of the varsity level as freshmen, Heiser is excited about what this group brings to the diamond.
“They were thrown into the fire last year as freshmen,” Heiser said. “I’m excited to see the progress they have made knowing what to expect now. Grace Ebel was the team’s only catcher last year and will be filling that role again as well as being maybe that group’s best hitter too. Linzee Fay and Zofia Uzella are both fast and expected to man the outfield for us. Then we have two new sophomores in Hannah Baker and Jaidin Trone who could figure into what we do when its all said and done.”
Having a mix of seniors and sophomores should help with the current group of freshmen and helping them to keep from getting overwhelmed.
“We have a very athletic freshmen group,” Heiser said. “Kara Staley is also a pitcher and will be helping Savannah Tucker with the pitching responsibilities. The whole group, which also includes Tori Balma, Maddie Weger and Reise Zellmer, has a lot of speed and some power as a group as well and I’m looking forward to seeing how they take to the varsity game. The whole team I think gives me options. We are very versatile and that can really help us be successful. We have had a great couple of weeks so I hope we can keep practicing and keep the momentum going for when we can play some games.”