Chapman softball team set for Tuesday's opener against Clay Center

Led by coach Eileen Webster (center), the Lady Fighting Irish huddle up before they break into stations during Monday's practice.

The Chapman Lady Fighting Irish softball team’s 2018 record may be a little deceiving. The team recorded only four wins while suffering 17 losses, but the record fails to represent many close games the Lady Irish were on the wrong side of. 

Second-year head coach Eileen Webster has been working with her players extensively this year on getting on the right side of those close finishes. 

“I’ve been working with the pitchers a little more this year,” Webster said. “They’re senior leaders, so I’m just hoping that will help. We’ve been focusing on our hitting more this year because we did not hit well last year.”

The girls have had about a week of practice time on their home field in preparation for Tuesday’s opener against Clay Center. Due to the inclement weather Kansas has experienced this winter, a majority of practice time has been spent in the gym. But, with spring in the air at moment, the team is happy to be outside on the grass and dirt.

“It feels good to finally be out here,” Webster said. “I’m pretty sure the girls were ready to kill somebody being in the gym as long as we were. It was getting old. It’s been great now that we’ve been outside.”

Returning for action is catcher Emma Elliott, the team’s clean-up hitter. She will be looked upon to carry a big chunk of the offensive production this season. On the mound, a good portion of the time will be shared by seniors Rachel Duer and Alex Hoelscher. They will be logging most of the innings while trying to lead the team to victory. The lead-off hitter will be Ashlynn Bledsoe. Webster believes Bledsoe’s speed will continue to play a big factor on the base paths. On defense, Bledsoe’s speed helped her record six diving catches last season, and Webster hopes that success carries over.

Webster believes players are relieved that the first game is finally here, and are ready to get the season started.

“I think we’ve been chomping at the bit ready to go,” Webster said. “They’re (Clay Center) definitely a hard team; we always have to play them first. I want to get that game in and out of the way because it will help us with the rest of the season.”

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