This is the sixth installment of a six-part series of columns that will look ahead to the upcoming high school sports year for our six area schools.
– June 21 — SCC Titans
– June 24 — Yates Center Wildcats
– June 27 — Crest Lancers
– July 1 — Humboldt Cubs
– July 8 — Iola Mustangs/Fillies
– Today — Marmaton Valley Wildcats
The Wildcat girls are facing the task of replacing their leader from a season ago with Kyla Drake having graduated, but the good news for Marmaton Valley is they are used to that after having to replace McKenzie Tynon last season.
Tynon was a star for the Wildcats in volleyball, basketball and track and field, but with her departure last season, Drake filled her shoes and led the Wildcats in all three of those sports.
Now with Drake gone, Marmaton Valley will turn to there next group of stars to rise up.
Luckily for the Wildcats, they have a plethora of talented athletes across sports that seem ready to lead.
With junior Karlie Stephens in the pitching circle, the Wildcats know they have a reliable arm to depend on this season.
Stephens has been the team’s primary pitcher the past two seasons and now that she is an upperclassman, she seems poised to improve on the All-Three Rivers League year that she put together last season.
The biggest key for the Wildcats will be the continued development of their hitters.
At the top of the order, coach Craig Richey knows he can rely on shortstop Isabelle Bigelow and Stephens to be reliable bats.
Stephens led the team with a .551 average and 23 runs scored and Bigelow was second on the team with 20 runs scored and a .364 average, but developing the middle of the order is the next step to making an elite offense.
Senior catcher Trinitee Gutierrez served as the team’s cleanup hitter this past season hit over .400.
Juniors Paige Becker and Shaylee Woods will also slot somewhere into the top five spots in the batting order.
The bottom of the order will be the real mystery for Richey as he enters his second year at the helm of the program, but with five spots in the order accounted for, the competition should be fierce for the remaining spots.