Smithville softball looking to build on last year's successes

Smithville senior Elizabeth Palmer throws to first base during a Class 4 District 8 softball game against Platte County last season.

SMITHVILLE — With a record of 22 wins and 11 losses and 11 wins and 1 loss in conference, tying with Platte County for the conference championship, one may think Smithville softball can only keep climbing. For coach Kaily Mayhugh, that’s the plan.

“I would say our strengths are determination, grit, depth on defense, speed, power hitters, a very coachable team and our steadiness,” the second-year head coach said. “As a team, we can dominate, but as of right now, we don’t have single players that we would define as ‘dominating.’ I believe that will change.”

Setting the tone for that change comes in the form of seven returning starters: senior Haley Cotter, pitcher; junior Raelyn Tanner, first base; senior Deyton Odneal, infield/outfield; senior Elizabeth Palmer, infield/catcher; senior Haven Gann, outfield; junior Katie Robinette, infield; and junior Lilly Wornson, center field.

Her players racked up some serious honors last year with all-conference players: pitchers Makaela Carr, first team, and Haley Cotter, second team; catcher Veronica McNeece, first team; infielders Robinette and Palmer, first team, and Adi Callahan, second team; Wornson, outfield, first team; and Odneal, utility, first team.

All-district honors were given to Carr, Cotter, Robinette, Palmer, McNeece, Wornson and Odneal. All-region honors went to Carr, Cotter, McNeece, Palmer and Robinette. All-state honors went to Carr, pitcher, first team; and McNeece, catcher, first team.

As for expected leading contributors this season, Mayhugh expects Cotter is going to be the leader in the circle. In addition to racking up all-conference, district and region honors, Cotter had 8 wins and 4 loses with a 1.24 ERA.

“She is also a powerhouse at bat. She hit four home runs and ended with a .383 batting average,” Mayhugh said. “Lilly Wornson and Katie Robinette are our speed around the bases. Lilly ended with a .303 batting average and 14 stolen bases. Katie ended with a .329 batting average and 13 stolen bases. Both ended with post season honors as well.”

Mayhugh said she plans to also look to Palmer, another heavy hitter who is also going to spend some time behind the plate. Palmer ended the season with a .329 batting average and post-season honors. Odneal is another returner who ended last season with a .333 batting average and post-season honors as well.

The team also has a few juniors starting that are expected to make an impact. They include Ashlyn Langhus, Kelsie Eisman and Emma Rice. Sophomore Ellie Pickett looks to be a powerhouse at bat as well, said the coach.

“This season we will be challenged by several teams. We look forward to playing Platte County, who we tied for conference champs with last season,” Mayhugh said. “On Sept. 13, at our home game against Platte City, we will be hosting a Laces Up for Pediatric Cancer Night. With donations from AKS Industrial Supply, INC., both teams with be wearing gold laces in support of pediatric cancer. We will also have T-shirts and donations as well. We are so glad to be doing this with them.”

The first home game is 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31 against Excelsior Springs.

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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