After losing eight players graduating, Geneseo's softball team has players auditioning for new roles.
The start of the season will be an audition for the Geneseo softball team.
The Lady Leafs had eight players graduate off of last year’s roster, and Geneseo will begin the season looking to fill in the holes left in the lineup.
“Last year, I think we went into the season with more positions set,” Geneseo Coach Pat Mitchell said. “This year, we have some candidates, but we are still trying to figure it out. We have to figure out, what is the best way to be competitive.”
The Lady Leafs graduated two of their best vocal leaders with Jasmine McCormick and Maddie Mackey starting their college careers at Heartland Community College.
However, Geneseo has a core of players who have big game experience returning from a 25-7 campaign last season.
The Lady Leafs’ pitchers look to begin the season in dominant fashion.
A senior, Jane Thomas will be a key cog for the Lady Leafs coming off an 18-5 season pitching in the circle and earning Northern Illinois Big 12 honors.
With a verbal commitment to Northern Illinois University, Delaney Ostrowski begins her junior year with pitching experience and the ability to be a middle of the order hitter.
A senior, the Lady Leafs’ Anna McAvoy returns to her position at shortstop after a solid season last season, and catcher Caitlin Gilmore earned NIB 12 All-Conference honors last season.
A sophomore, the Lady Leafs’ Ava Bieneman has the speed to leadoff the order and, she served Geneseo well as the starting second baseman last season.
While the infield will see few changes, the outfield will see a complete overhaul.
Allison Yager will be one of the only returning players with experience in the outfield.
After Geneseo’s JV team finished the season 21-2, the Lady Leafs look to have a glut of young talent ready to make an impact.
The Lady Leafs’ junior group of Elli Weller, Hannah Himmelman, Kelsey Frakes and Alysia Anderson will compete for time in the outfield to start the season.
Geneseo’s Emma Burke and Gabi Allen are a pair of infielders who will compete for spots.
Back up catcher Rachel Shoemaker will be valuable after hitting the ball well at the JV level last season.
Geneseo’s Mary Thomas will get a chance to earn a spot in the lineup at the hot corner.
“The nice thing about Mary is she has no fear,” Mitchell said.
An infielder, GHS’ Kaitlyn McKeag will return from ACL surgery to play her senior year.
Geneseo will have early seasons tests against Moline and Alleman.
However, the NIB 12 Conference season will be a gauntlet for the Lady Leafs.
“The thing Moline and Alleman do is they put pressure on you,” Mitchell said. “They will find your mistakes and take advantage of them. When you play teams like that you find out what you need to work on.”
The biggest measuring stick could come against rival Sterling after the Golden Warriors were ranked No. 2 in the Class 3A preseason coaches poll.
Kaneland starts the season ranked sixth in Class 3A, and DeKalb made a run to the state finals in 2016.
“The conference is up-and-down very competitive,” Mitchell said. “I’d like to think can be right in the mix with everybody else.”