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In coach Shannon Cook’s 16 years with the Earlville-Leland softball team, she has won one regional championship.
The 2005-06 — the program’s only regional championship team in its history — lost in the sectional semifinals.
This fact alone is the fuel behind this season’s Red Raider team’s goal of getting further in the postseason than any previous E-L team.
“I know the girls were upset after the regional game (last season) because they can play better than what they showed then,” Cook said. “One of things they want to do is go further in the postseason than any team from Earlville has gone. The same for the conference. We finished second last year and they want to be at the top again.”
Last year’s squad beat Somonauk in both of its Little Ten Conference games, but then lost to the Lady Bobcats in the first game of the regional.
Cook lost three starters to graduation, including shortstop Lauren Anderson, left fielder Emily Pfaff and first baseman Lisa Lantz.
“We have some other seniors and a junior that didn’t start last year who will get more playing time filling in the outfield,” Cook said. “(Kristina) Morsovillo is a pitcher but she’ll probably spend some time at shortstop as well. We have places for people to go, it’s just finding the right combination where everything is going to work together.”
Even though three players from last year’s team are gone, six are back.
The 2012 NewsTribune First-Team All-Area catcher Emily Grace returns behind the plate for her senior campaign. The only other returning senior starter is outfielder Torie Dumke, who also will pitch.
Junior Jasmine Kerley is back on the rubber for the Red Raiders in the roll of ace pitcher.
Other juniors returning include Julie Musich — who will again be at second base — and Carrissa Miller, who will man third base.
The other returning starter is Morosovillo, a sophomore who played as a utility player last season. This season Cook anticipates her seeing more innings as a pitcher, but she can accommodate any position on the field.
“We don’t have a cage, so we haven’t been able to hit because we can’t go outside,” Cook said. “We have only been hitting off tees and doing boring in-gym drill work. We went outside for a little more than an hour (March 11) and the outfield was frozen and the infield mush.
“I have a nice group of girls, I know they want to do well and they have the talent and the ability to do well. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get out there and play some games before too long and start working together.”
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.
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