NORFOLK, Neb. – The Northeast Community College softball team will rely on its youth this spring to guide its way into postseason play under head coach Iris Woodhead.
A talented core of freshman newcomers will be leaned on heavily when the Hawks open their season on Feb. 21 against Central Community College in Columbus, Neb.
“We are young this year, so we are looking to do a bunch of growing this spring,” Woodhead said. “We learned a lot in the fall and winter, but still have a lot of maturing to do. This fall we were a tough team to beat. We have been able to bond well this winter and work on our craft. The coaching staff has seen tremendous improvement out of our players. I expect us to compete well this year and with continuous fight.”
While boasting a large freshman class, the Hawks bring back experience in the outfield and at the catcher position in Inese Uribe (Riverside, Calif.) and Rosario Garcia (Northglenn, Colo.). Last season, Uribe played in 47 games, registering 79 at-bats with a .215 batting average and a .374 on-base percentage. Garcia saw action in 51 games, recording 131 at-bats, 27 RBI, five doubles, a triple and a home run for a .244 batting average.
“I am looking forward to watching these girls get out on the field and compete,” Woodhead added. “We have the will and the drive as long as we are able to stay even-headed and hold one another accountable, we will compete. I also look forward to our growth as I think it will be very noticeable.”
With two sophomore leaders poised to have a breakout season, the freshmen will have big shoes to fill at the other positions.
“Expectations for the freshmen are high, we need them to find their groove early on in February,” Woodhead mentioned. “If there is ever a time to rise up, it is now. We have an excellent group of freshmen. They work hard in the weight room and are very competitive.”
Chantel Julian (Roseville, Calif.), Jacqueline Denning (Sacramento, Calif.), Reagan Reicks (Dunlap, Iowa) and Maggie Berryman (Norfolk, Neb.) add powerful bats to the Hawks’ lineup.
Denning was a four-year starter at Flosom High School and a three-time letterwinner. She had the top batting average on her team as a junior and senior. Reicks and Berryman were multi-year letterwinners on their respective high school softball teams.
Fellow freshmen Sydney Kelley (Omaha, Neb.), Abby Pierce (Brainard, Neb.) and Madison McKewon (Springfield, Neb.) had depth to the infield and in the pitcher’s circle. Kelley lettered all four years at Omaha Burke High School and was captain as a senior. McKewon was also a four-year starter in softball and was an All-Conference selection on three different occasions. She still holds the record for most put-outs, lowest ERA and most stolen bases at Platteview High School.
“We like how our lineup is looking right now,” Woodhead added. “I have no doubt in any of our players that each and every one will be able to be tough at the plate this year. We have some big hitters in Julian, Denning, Reicks and Berryman and some added speed in Kelley, McKewon and Pierce.”
The Hawks’ home opener is scheduled for March 9 at 2 p.m. against North Platte Community College at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park in Norfolk.