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West, JM Thinking Big

By CODY TOMER

Staff Writer

MOUNDSVILLE — A year removed from a regional final appearance, John Marshall softball coach Ed West believes his Monarchs have the talent and experience to reach that point again.

“We have pretty much the same goals as last year,” West said. “We have a strong schedule but I think we can win a lot of games and be right there when the postseason starts.”

West is entering his ninth year at John Marshall, finishing the 2016 campaign with a tremendous 24-6 record.

Gone from that 24-6 team are four seniors. Mary Tennant (3B), Bailey Filben (OF), Alyssa Blake (P) and Cassidy McCord (OF) all picked up their diplomas after strong careers with the program.

“Blake was an All-OVAC selection and an honorable mention for All-State and Tennant was second-team All-OVAC,” West said. “But a lot of players saw time last year, everyone contributed and we are returning nine players on varsity.”

Junior Lauren Garcia returns after being named a first team all-state pitcher, along with classmate Carli Lightner, who will also see time in the circle and at shortstop.

“Garcia and Lightner are looking good in the circle and have worked hard in the offseason,” West said. “I am pleased to have them both.

“Garcia can hit with a lot of power and Lightner had the second highest average on the team last year (.415),”

The senior class is made up of three leaders who will be counted on to take charge during the 2017 campaign.

Katie Whorton (OF), Ravyn Schultz (1B) and Hannah Morris (2B) are looking to lead the Monarchs back to the regional finals and hopefully into the state tournament.

“Schultz had a really good season last year and Whorton played a lot last year but was injured,” West said. “Morris started at second base a year ago and will stay at the position this year.”

Two other juniors adding to the returning talent of the Monarchs are Maddy Mayle behind the plate and Kendra Smertneck in the outfield, while sophomores Lydia Knutsen, who is the leadoff hitter, and Taylor Gray will see time in the outfield.

“Schultz hit six or seven home runs last year and knocked in a lot of runs too,” West said. “Knutsen did a great job of getting on base at the top of the lineup so I really don’t see any weaknesses in our lineup.

“Gray played some varsity last year as well and has good speed that will help us in the outfield.”

Two freshmen should be called upon to start this year as sisters Anna Blake and Abby Blake could spend time in utility positions.

Assistant coaches for John Marshall include Eric Booth, Rod Swoger, Denny Phillips and Robby Blake.

March 21: at Park. South 4:30 p.m.

March 22: Brooke 5 p.m.

March 28: at Oak Glen 5:30 p.m.

March 29: at Warren JFK 5 p.m.

March 30: at Morgantown 5:30 p.m.

April 1: at B-U (North Marion) 12 p.m.

April 3: at Weir 5 p.m.

April 4: at Wheeling Park 5 p.m.

April 5: University 4:30 p.m.

April 6: Morgantown 5 p.m.

April 7: at Ripley 5 p.m.

April 10: at Edison 5 p.m.

April 11: St. Clairsville 5 p.m.

April 12: at Brooke 5 p.m.

April 13: at Indian Creek 5 p.m.

April 15: P,Pleasant (Mussleman) noon

April 17: Wheeling Park 5 p.m.

April 19: at University 5 p.m.

April 20: Edison 5 p.m.

April 24: Weir 5:30 p.m.

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