Youngsters to play pivotal role in softball lineup

Randy Speer, The Circuit

Benedictine softball will open their season this weekend with a lineup filled with fresh faces mixed with battle-tested returners.

Excitement is how head coach Dana Goss explained the feeling for the impending season.

“The fact that its our first full recruiting class meshing with a group of girls that has worked hard over the past couple of years to buy into what we have been doing here and bringing them all together, I am excited for them,” Goss said.

Half of the Lady Raven’s roster is composed of freshman, a fact not lost on Goss.

“We have a lot of youth, and we think we are going to be really good but they are still really young.,” she said. “Our opponents aren’t going to care that they are freshman and haven’t done this before.”

The only losses from last season’s 26-17 season are Megan Eldredge and Jenna Fitzpatrick. The tandem locked down the left-side of the infield last season for Benedictine with Eldredge at third base and Fitzpatick at shortstop. Eldredge was named a first-team All-Conference infielder while, Fitzpatrick earned a second-team selection.

Freshman Brooke Lee is slated to take over the shortshop position.

Lee has big shoes to fill Goss said. Fitzpatrick was both a quality player and a vocal leader on the field.

Goss has pushed Lee to become that type of leader and senior second basemen Sierra Esau has also stepped up to fill that void.

Freshmen Sarah Methvin and Alex Burris are going to play a key role in the outfield for the Lady Ravens.

“Realistically, they are young and they haven’t gone through a full season but at the same time we’ve been pushing them since day one and the returners have done a really great job of letting them know this is how we do things,” Goss said.

In the circle, Benedictine will be led by returning workhorse Katie Ricklefs who posted a 14-12 record while throwing 164.2 inning last year.

“She just kind of puts our team at ease,” Goss said of Ricklefs.

Freshman Nikki McNeil will get a lot of innings behind Ricklefs Goss said.

“(McNeil) doesn’t look like a freshman,” Goss said. “In off-the-field settings she can act like a freshman, but on the field she doesn’t act like a freshman.”

With so many freshman in play, settling into a regular line-up may take some time.

“Figuring out where everyone fits best to make the best team is obviously going to take time,” Goss said.