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Glenwood girls aiming for conference title

By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

Balance.

That’s the word Glenwood softball coach Tim Stanton used to describe his 2013 squad.

“I think we’ll have several kids that are standout players and when you have that many kids standout, nobody is standing out,” he said. “I think we have a lot of good players and good hitters. I don’t think this going to be ‘Glenwood has this person,’ it’s going to be ‘Glenwood has a team.’”

The Rams were 26-10 overall and 13-5 a year ago, good enough for third place in the Hawkeye 10 Conference.

If Glenwood is to best that performance they’ll have to do it without one of the school’s all-time best pitchers in Molly Bryan, who exhausted her eligibility after last season. Bryan was 18-8 with 236 strikeouts last season.

“We have a good combination of pitchers,” Stanton said. “Lisa (Nebel ) was great for us last year. She had some good wins over good schools. Some of the wins she had were impressive.”

Nebel was 8-2 in a backup role last season. The junior fanned 78 and had a 1.81 earned run average in 69 2/3 innings.

Stanton said several other pitchers could also see time in the varsity circle this season, including Jacey Embray, Lyndie VanNess and Mackenzie Richter.

“We’re really deep at pitcher,” he said. “We have several pitchers that can pitch at the varsity level but obviously Lisa has the experience. We plan on using a lot of pitchers this year. We may not get the strikeouts we’ve gotten before but we have good defensive pitchers.”

As big a contributor Bryan was in the circle, her impact at the plate was just as big. Bryan is the school’s all-time leader in homeruns having belted nine last year, driving in a team-leading 28 runs and hitting a team-best .505. She was also a prime candidate for an intentional walk (she walked 22 times last season).

“She got walked so much in crucial situations I’m not so sure how much she really contributed,” Stanton said. It was great to have her in there when they had to pitch to her but they just didn’t pitch to her much. We also had kids that put a lot of time in this winter, getting bigger and stronger. By the looks of them in practice, we’ll be a better hitting team this year than last.”

The Rams smacked 75 extra-base hits and stole 76 bases while hitting .281 as a team last season. Stanton said he sees the potential to raise all those statistics this season. He’d like to see his team be able to manufacture more runs and steal more than 100 bases.

“I think last year we ran into a lot of good catchers. And teams were getting wise to stealing. I want to steal 100 bases and we have the kids to do it. The other team’s catcher dictates a lot of that more than anything else. We have good base stealers but we just  don’t have that 50 base stealer like we’ve had in the past in the lineup. But I think we have two or three or could steal 25 or 30 and that’s just as good.”

With his depth, Stanton hasn’t handed anyone on his roster a starting spot.

“With the kids we have returning, and the experience we have, the starters we have back probably gives them the best look at nailing down spots. But with our depth, I can’t think of one single person who has their spot locked up. There’s two and sometimes three that could all start at a spot. A lot will depend on how they hit.”

The Rams return five of their top six hitters from a year ago in seniors MaKenna Henze (.323, 19 RBIs), Emily Blum (.319), Jaelin Stanton (.352, 26 RBIs), Grace Newman (.226, 10 RBIs) and junior Bailey Starner (.255, 11 RBIs).

“I think the winner of the conference this year will have three losses. I don’t see anyone running the table,” Stanton said. “We just have to play consistent softball against everyone and we will be in every game. We can’t take any nights off.”

Glenwood opens its season at home against A-H-S-T on May 20. First pitch is set for 7:30 p.m.