By RON PRESTON
The Abilene Cowgirls’ softball team will have a new look for the 2013 season as in new head coach and new players.
New Cowgirl Coach LouAna Koochel will have to replace four senior starters from last year’s 11-11 season.
She has been on the Cowgirl staff as assistant coach for the past five years.
“I believe we have some great leadership this year,” coach Koochel said.
“We lost some excellent players in Allyne Clark, Alise Murray, Karina Anderson and Stacy Hansen due to graduation. It’s always scary thinking about how we’ll fill those positions when these girls made such an impact, but it always works out,” Koochel said.
The Cowgirls, however, will have eight returning lettermen to lead the team into their first game of the season.
Returning for the Cowgirls will be: seniors Kiley Crider, Carly Gassman, Shay Hoekman, Michaela Olberding and Aldyn Wildey.
Junior Bree Lake and sophomores Jenna Klein and Mallory Olberding also return in probable starting roles for the Cowgirls.
Wildey will be counted on to head the pitching rotation for the Cowgirls. She had eight of the 11 wins for Abilene last season.
The Cowgirls finished third place in the North Central Kansas League last season with a 5-5 record.
Wildey was third in the league with her eight wins.
Klein and Olberding will compete for mound duty with returning JV pitchers and incoming freshmen hurlers.
Gassman should lead the Cowgirls behind the plate as catcher, with Michaela Olberding at third base, Crider at short stop, Hoekman at second base and junior Hailey Devine manning first base.
The outfield could have a combination of Lake, Devine, Klein, and Mallory Olberding among others on the squad.
“I know there are girls who will step into the positions left open from last year’s seniors and do a wonderful job,” said Koochel.
“Honestly, if we work hard and eliminate our mental mistakes we could finish at the top of our league. We all just need to buy-in to what we are capable of doing and strive hard to reach that goal,” added Koochel.
Coach Koochel will be assisted by Dallas Meneley and Brian Roth.
The Cowgirls open their season March 28th at Concordia.
Members of the 2013 Cowgirls are seniors Kiley Crider, Carly Gassman, Shay Hoekman, Michaela Olberding and Aldyn Wildey.
Juniors are Hailey Devine, Bree Lake, Makayla Wassenberg and sophomores Takara Carranza, Cheyenne Cody, Jayme Friderich, Jessica Hagedorn, Jenna Klein, Shelby Mascareno and Mallory Olberding.
Freshmen Kristina Bondurant, Jade Crable, Kylie Geske, Sydney Hocker, Kayla Parson, Bailey Short and Sarah Stout will add depth to the Cowgirl roster.