Bulls-eyes on backs of Clinton’s two-time state softball champs
Clinton’s varsity softball players are literally wearing bull’s-eyes on their backs as two-time defending Division 3 state champions.First year head coach Kim Phillip took over the program this year from long time Clinton state championship coach Al Roberts. She has been the assistant coach for several seasons and helped the team pick up both of its state titles.“Our motto this year is a big bull’s-eye. We have it on the back of our team shirts and wear them with pride,” Phillip said. While returning several key players, several have graduated allowing some talented freshman on board to help defend the state titles.“I’m ready to get started,” Phillip said of her first season with the team. “We’re really excited about getting going. We’ve been working hard and want to show it off.”Clinton has more experience than youth but will pepper the infield and outfield with a few freshmen players.Phillip said it’ll take all season to prepare for the final seven games but feels the team will be ready when it comes time for post-season success.Three All-State players return in senior pitcher Cami Prater, junior third baseman Kris Forest and senior second baseman Keely Quiring.Clinton’s second starting pitcher, freshman Megan Burton, should compliment Prater very well as a southpaw in the circle, according to Phillip.The teams starting catcher graduated and will possibly be replaced by freshman Haley Turk. The coach has also moved junior Kris Forest from third base to the catcher position to see if that will work out better.“We’re looking to build an all-state catcher right now,” said Phillip. “Once the season starts we’ll make our final decision.” Freshman Caitlyn Schuler will cover third base when Forest is behind home plate as a utility player. Phillip said she is capable of playing any position except pitcher and has a very good swing at the plate to help the offense.Returning to solidify the infield corners is first baseman junior Elizabeth Barkel.Quiring will cover second base while freshman Sarah Turner will be the team’s shortstop.“Turner is one to look at,” said Phillip. “She has crazy range and does some pretty phenomenal things.”Junior Melissa Dowell returns to left field where Phillip said she’s done a great job in the past.Sophomore Megan Nelson is covering center field while freshmen Ashleigh Donahey and Kaitlyn Schuler are options for right field.Prater was one of the Redskins’ best offensive threats last season along with Forest. The coach is also expecting Barkel to step it up at the plate to help score some game winning runs.There are also a couple of slappers at the plate which will help mix things up and give several different styles to opposing pitchers.“It’s a new look,” said Phillip. “We’re the same team, the same people, we’re just missing Al. But, we’re going to do some things a little different this year. I think we have to.”Clinton was scheduled to highlight its talent at home in a tournament on Saturday, April 13 but the event was cancelled due to expected inclement weather.