The Columbus North softball team got off to a slow start under first-year coach Robyn Coffer last season, but the Bull Dogs are primed for a much improved 2016.
Seven starters return from a team that started 0-6 and 1-10 before a much better second half of the season allowed North to finish with a 6-18 record. The Bull Dogs put in a ton of work in the offseason, and it showed when they practiced for a week before spring break and then came back strong on Monday.
“I thought they made great strides (Monday),” Coffer said. “We just want to improve on last year. Every game, every play, just do our absolute best, if it’s laying out for a ball, if it’s getting a hit at bat, if it’s fouling off a ball, doing those things.”
North lost top run producer Kelsay Lucas, who is now playing at Oakland (Michigan) University. But it returns prolific hitters in senior shortstop Katie Prall (.446 batting average, nine doubles, one home run, nine RBIs), senior pitcher-first baseman Christine Bombardiere (.427, two HR, 13 RBIs) and senior catcher Tommi Stowers (.342, two triples, seven RBIs).
Bombardiere (4-8, 0.94 ERA) and junior Madisyn Prince (1-10, 4.22) did most of the pitching last season and played first base when they weren’t in the circle. Stowers, a Western Kentucky recruit, returns behind the plate.
Prall anchors the infield at short. Senior Kat Boroughs returns at third base, and senior Mikayla Caudill (.260, 11 RBIs) anchors the outfield in center.
Senior Paige Deneve also returns in the outfield. Burroughs or sophomore Josie Harden will play second base, and freshman Bailey Lofton steps in at first or third.
“The time we’ve been out, they’ve been getting better and learning their positions and learning new positions,” Coffer said.
The Bull Dogs, who scrimmage today at Jennings County, open the regular season Saturday at South Dearborn. The home opener is March 30 against Silver Creek.
With a lot of seniors, Coffer is confident North can be improved this spring.
“I think there’s strength in numbers,” Coffer said. “We have a large senior class, and I’m hoping they can pull the younger kids along as far as setting the tone with what we’re looking for and how to build on one another. As long as our skills are there, I think we’ll be OK.”
2016 softball schedule
Saturday;at South Dearborn;11 a.m.
March 30;Silver Creek,5:30 p.m.
April 1;at East Central;6 p.m.
April 2;at Whiteland;10 a.m.
April 7;Shelbyville;5:30 p.m.
April 12;at Seymour;5:30 p.m.
April 14;at Franklin Central;5:30 p.m.
April 16;at Brown County Tournament;9 a.m.
April 18;Columbus East;5 p.m.
April 19;at Bloomington North;6 p.m.
April 21;Southport;6 p.m.
April 23;at Center Grove Tournament;10 a.m.
April 28;Perry Meridian;6 p.m.
May 2;Edinburgh;5 p.m.
May 5;at Indian Creek;5:30 p.m.
May 9;Brownstown Central;5:30 p.m.
May 10;Bloomington South;6 p.m.
May 11;Greensburg;5:30 p.m.
May 14;Conference Indiana Tournament at Franklin Central;noon
May 17;at Jennings County;5:30 p.m.
May 19;Hauser;5 p.m.