After winning back-to-back sectional titles, Columbus North coach Jerry Burton has some lofty goals for this softball season.
The Bull Dogs want to win the Conference Indiana title, and they want to reclaim the regional title they won in 2011.
“I think we’re going to have a pretty good team,” Burton said. “We have quite a bit of experience coming back.”
North returns six starters from a team that finished 18-12 and lost to Franklin Central 1-0 in the regional. Two are pitchers in honorable-mention All-Conference selections Molly Crowe and
Crowe, a junior, went 11-9 with three saves and a 2.46 ERA. Lucas, a sophomore, went 6-3 with a save and a 2.58 ERA. A third pitcher, freshman Christine Bombardeere, also figures to see action this season.
“Sometimes, we play three to five games a week, so there’s going to be pitching available for all of them,” Burton said. “It just depends on a lot of different situations. I’ll try to get all of them pitching time. Obviously, Molly has the most experience, and would be our No. 1 pitcher.”
Lucas, who plays first or third when she isn’t pitching, batted .342 with 20 RBIs. Senior outfielder Alex Whirley hit .348 with 11 RBIs, while junior third baseman Shannah Hercamp hit .322 with 18 RBIs, senior catcher Shelby Lucas hit .300 and junior middle infielder Denisa Brooks hit .220.
Freshman Katie Prall likely will step in at second or short. Sophomore Michelle Litchfield will play left field, while Bombardeere or freshman Tommi Stowers are battling in right. Junior Grayson Harney also could see some action as a pitcher or in the outfield.
“We have some kids like Michelle Litchfield coming back that got some time last year,” Burton said. “We need her to step up in the outfield, and we have three freshmen that are going to get a lot of playing time.
“We have some talent,” he said. “We have a lot of depth, especially in our pitching staff. We’re trying to figure out what our best team is, and that may take awhile. We have a lot of games early, so we’ll get to take a look at all our players.”