Area teams geared up as 2011 softball season gets under way

With a deep returning cast and a team benchmark in its opener against Argos, Culver Community’s softball team is feeling good about the start of the 2011 softball season.
The Lady Cavaliers topped the visiting Dragons 5-3 Tuesday, giving head coach Cristyn Cottone her first win at the helm for Culver.
“The girls did a great job at being focused and ready to play,” said Cottone of the win. “They didn’t give up. We wanted that win so bad and they kept striving for it. I was nervous for them because you could see how badly they wanted it. I am very proud of them. What a great way to start the season. A great way to show how much we have improved over the years.”
Seniors Lindsey VanHorn, Paige Norwich, Sharon Myers and Jessica Hominger all return with this year’s squad, while juniors Cassie Back and Amanda Steele are both back, and a deep cast of returning sophomores are back in the mix in Ali Overmyer, Erin Bau, Clare Hartman and Michelle Elam.
Culver’s victory Tuesday is the product not only of that experienced roster, but the excitement the team is feeling this year as well.
“The improvement from last year’s team to this years is extraordinary,” said Cottone. “The best part of it is, they want to get better because they love the game. Our goal this year is to come together as a team and win some games.”
Across the way, Plymouth returns a solid group at a good mix of spots in seniors Kelsey Hartman, Lauren Kelso, Kristy Clemons, Katie Wojcik and Karson Doll as well as juniors Marissa Sullivan and Emilee Keilman and sophomores Morgan O’Neal and Kailey Whitley.
The Lady Pilgrims should be particularly strong inside the circle with a pair of promising young pitchers in Britney Horvath and Miriah Brumley backing up All-Northern Lakes Conference returner Sullivan.
“Marissa, last year she was just coming off that (shoulder) surgery so it took her almost a whole season to get back to the Marissa we know,” said Plymouth head coach Ed Kelso.
“I think we’ve got enough pitchers to go around to keep us in the game.”
The team should also look better on the offensive end with Sullivan and Keilman returning to the mix with respective batting averages of .352 and .316 as well as Kelso, who batted .275 overall with a .357 mark in conference play. Team speed should help rack up the runs as well.
“I think we’ve got enough experience in the right spots, plus this is probably the best team speed we’ve had,” said Kelso. “Pretty much top to bottom, that first nine we’ve got some wheels in there, so that’s going to help us.”
Plymouth scrimmaged Wednesday with LaVille, which also returns a nice mix of players in 2011.
Seniors Candice Slater, Jordin Dolan, Danielle Krueger and Nichole Royer are all back, while juniors Valerie Ingle and Samantha Hamilton are joined by junior transfer Brittani Norton, and sophomores Lynae Hostrawser and Sydney Cannon are back as well.
The young Lady Lancers are looking good too, with a cast of 10 promising freshman, all of whom have already gotten some off-season experience on LaVille’s 14U travel team.
“I’ve had them since they were seventh-graders,” said LaVille head coach Scot Shearer. “As seventh-graders they were all learning the game still and then last year we finished over .500 on the 14 and under team. Hopefully it will be a short learning curve.”
“Obviously we hope to stay away from the injury bug, as does everybody else,” he added. “The kids have had very good attitudes so far this season. They help each other out.”