By Dana Harding (for OzarksSportsZone.com)
Mt. Vernon softball had another successful season under head coach Matt Schubert.
The Mountaineers finished with an 18-6 record, falling to College Heights Christian in the district title game.
As he enters his ninth season at the helm, Schubert believes the unexpected challenges of Covid have forced his young players to develop faster in order to take on bigger roles.
“The emergence of some of our sophomores and freshmen was a big key to the success we had last year,” Schubert said. “We only had one returning starter and one part-time starter from the 2019 season. Due to the ongoing pandemic, we had lower than normal numbers which was also a concern. »
Graduates Kenley Weaver and Tasha Collins left the team. Both received all-district honors as seniors.
“Both players played key leadership roles as they were two of the three with the most college experience,” Schubert said. “They were regular contributors who showed up every day and did what we expected of them on and off the pitch. They were both great teammates and the kind of kids you need to have successful teams.
A quartet of top leaders will help lead Mt. Vernon this year in Hadley Cornell, Josey McChesney, Jessah Anderson and Kylee Stockton.
Cornell, an all-conference, all-district, all-region infielder, hit .412 last season with 26 RBI and 29 runs.
“This will be Hadley’s third year starting, making her the most experienced player we have – she has 56 career starts,” Schubert said. “She has great speed and is fluid with the ball. Has a quick release on his throw and is stable on the ground.
McChesney, a center fielder, received all-conference, all-district, all-region and all-state honors in 2021. She hit .481 with 3 home runs, 27 RBIs and 25 runs.
“Josey is our quiet leader, setting the example,” Schubert said. “She works extremely hard in our off-season program, especially the weight room. Is a five tool player with good speed, power, average, arm strength and is incredibly smart. I’m also starting to become a more vocal leader.
Anderson, a second baseman, returns to the team after an injury.
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“Jessah missed part of last year with a knee injury,” Schubert said. “She’s a safe outfielder and a good hitter. Also a good baserunner.
Stockton will once again play left field for the ‘Neers.
“Kylee is a solid outfielder with a good arm and sells to make plays,” Shubert said. “She has some speed and handles the bases well.”
A pair of juniors also return to the roster with Allie Schubert and Harley Daniels.
Allie Schubert, an infielder, hit .250 last season with 10 RBIs. She received honors from all the conferences.
“Allie was the starting third baseman last year, but he’ll probably move to first base this year,” Coach Schubert said. “She’s a very good defensive player who is the most situationally aware player we have. Showed flashes of power last year and a solid presence in the middle of the command. Showing signs of being a vocal leader on the inside court.
Daniels returns to the circle as the team’s lead pitcher. She hit .373 with 1 homer and 28 RBIs. In the circle, she posted a 17-3-1 record and was named Big 8 conference pitcher of the year, as well as in all districts and regions. honors.
“Harley is our ace in the circle,” Coach Schubert said. “She hit 226 Ks in 124 innings pitched. Continues to improve his control and can be dominant. At home plate, Harley has power in all areas.
Sophomores Payge Evans, Alley Burk and Molly Burk round out the returning core of Mt. Vernon.
Evans, an outfielder and second baseman, hit .453 with 10 RBIs, 25 runs and 11 stolen bases. She received honors from all conferences, districts, and regions as a freshman.
“Payge is a slapper who can run,” coach Schubert said. “She finished the year as the leadoff hitter. Worked on adding power to his slap ability. In the outfield, she uses her speed to cover ground and has an above average arm. Understanding of the game has also improved.
Ally Burk returns as the team’s right fielder.
“Ally has good reach in the outfield with a good arm,” Schubert said. “She shows a bit of pop at the plate and can execute the bases really well.”
Molly Burk, an outfielder, was primarily a courtesy runner last season.
“Last year Molly was our best runner,” said Coach Schubert. “Molly has great speed and is a great situational baserunner who gives us the ability to put extra pressure on defense.”
The ‘Neers also welcome a quartet of roster newcomers Rae Downing, Molly Daniels, Ava Bellis and Cheyenne Bieber.
“All four players have had success this summer,” Schubert said. “Everyone has a lot of travel experience in softball and made quick adjustments to competition this summer. The big key for all four will be how consistent they can become on a day-to-day basis.
Mt. Vernon’s postseason aspirations will begin in the circle, with Daniels once again expected to anchor an emerging team of newcomers in Bellis and Bieber.
“We have an ace back in Harley Daniels,” Coach Schubert said. “She will carry the charge in the circle and can be a dominant starter. We have two freshmen – Ava Bellis and Cheyenne Bieber – who are also going to be able to help pick up some runs so Harley can be fresh at the end of the year. We have to limit our free passes and stay out of the middle of the plateau. If we can do these two things, we will be very successful.
On set, Mt. Vernon’s talent and experience should also provide a significant boost.
“We’re going to have a very comprehensive lineup that will feature both speed and power,” Coach Schubert said. “I think whatever combination of players we settle on, we can take good batting and any part of the lineup will be difficult for any opposing pitcher. We have a lot of girls who can run because we have up to three girls who can slap, but we have the middle of the formation who will have gap-to-spread power.
Above all, Coach Schubert believes his team’s overall depth could play an important role this season.
“With the quality of teams in the region this year, we have a tough schedule and we can’t have a bad day and expect to compete very well,” coach Schubert said. “In the spring there are so many things that conflict with our season that we will have players for various other activities and the ever potential quarantine. Our top subs will need to be ready to play every day and will need to be able to run against the tough pitchers we’re about to see.
Mt. Vernon will open its regular season on March 18 in the Sarcoxie Tournament.
With eight wins in 2022, the ‘Neers will reach 150 wins in just nine competitive seasons.