DARIEN – With several senior mainstays, including pitcher Jessica Buckridge, catcher Lauren Cairo and outfielder Emily Mihalkanin, having graduated last spring, Hinsdale South’s softball team was bound to have a different look this season.
But the changes are even more drastic than expected.
“We lost a couple kids to other sports, and even among the returning players we lost one to injury,” head coach Kelly Van Hout said.
Senior third baseman Sabrina Kuchta, who was a major weapon on offense and who played solid defense last year, will miss the season with an injury, further depleting the Hornets’ ranks. But Van Hout and her players won’t use Kuchta’s injury or the defections to other sports as excuses.
“We have just got to find someone to fill those shoes and keep working,” Van Hout said. “We’ll just try to get them as much confidence and experience as possible.”
South won’t be starting over from scratch. Andra Morris, Sarah Hanson and Holli Jones return after starting throughout last spring. Rachel Soukup and Kailey Hoel also saw playing time last season.
“We’re still trying to find which rotation and which group gives us the best chance to win,” Van Hout said.
Mackenzie Kern, who was not part of the varsity last year, figures to be a primary weapon in the pitching arsenal.
“It’s kind of a unique situation,” Van Hout said. “We were able to get her out on the team her senior year. She’s been a pitcher before, so she’ll be able to hold her own.”
Freshman Abby Overmann should also have an impact on the varsity.
Defending conference champion Downers Grove South and Willowbrook figure to be frontrunners in the West Suburban Gold race, but Van Hout expects her team to be right there with them.
“They’re always tough, but I think we can be right up there if we execute in terms of hitting,” the coach said.
Hinsdale South Hornets
Coach: Kelly Van Hout
2013 record: 13-22, regional champs
Sarah Hanson so. 1B
Holli Jones so. C
Mackenzie Kern sr. P
Andra Morris sr. OF/SS
Rachel Soukup sr. IF/OF