(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) – Softball season is now upon us as the Central Missouri team opened practice to prepare to make a race for Division-II World Series.
The Jennies’ season begins Feb. 2 at the Southeastern Oklahoma Region Invitational in Durant, Oklahoma, where they will play six games in a three-day tournament.
As the team prepares for the season, they are glad to welcome back starters Courtni Smith, Hailey Crabtree and Allie Dishinger. Smith looks to lead the team this year following her 2017 stats of second-most hits with 47, 13 steal and three home runs.
Smith emphasized her excitement for the upcoming season with her team. She said the team has prepared in their practice routine and that she has high hopes for the playoffs.
“I know that we can go far; we’re good and have a lot of talent,” Smith said.
There is a big gap to fill the Jennies’ big contributor – Lauren Mabe. For her duration at UCM, Mabe was able to put up stats for most hits in Jennies’ history with 242 in a three-year span. She also led the team in runs last year with 34 and four home runs.
Jennies Head Coach Susan Anderson said Mabe had a huge impact on the team in her career here.
“We will definitely miss Lauren. She was a four-year starter and an All-Conference/All-Region first baseman for us who put up big offensive numbers,” she said.
Anderson said she left a legacy mark at UCM but now it is an opportunity for new leaders and difference-makers on the team.
The Jennies are welcoming three junior transfers: Taylor Dames, Shelby Clark and Payton Summers. Six freshmen were also added to the roster. There are five returning seniors that all have experience starting; four had the opportunity of being in the Division-II World Series season in 2015.
Infielder Emily King said she thinks the newcomers have adjusted well to the program and she believes they’re beginning to buy into the Jennies’ culture.
“Honestly they have fit in pretty well, looking out I don’t think you could tell who’s a freshmen or who’s a senior,” King said in between sessions at practice.
Coach Anderson said the new players’ adjustments show their hard work.
“They are becoming more aggressive base runners, as well as smart defensive players and understanding what it means to be a great teammate,” Anderson said.
The Jennies’ schedule is looking to be highly competitive this season, beginning early in the month of February against top teams in the regional MIAA Conference including the Jennies’ rivals last year – Central Oklahoma.
“They are definitely someone we need to take seriously. We had a tough time last year with them.” Smith said.
The Jennies are projected to finish fourth in the MIAA conferences according to the conference polls. Coach Anderson also looks to get her sixth-straight winning season with the Jennies as they work toward the Division II World Series.
“This is a talented and versatile group who are highly competitive,” Anderson said.
Look out for the Jennies in their upcoming season beginning March 7 when they go head-to-head against Rockhurst University.