By William / www.mcpherson-county-ks.com
LINDSBORG – In 2021 the Smoky Valley softball team came within one win of going to the state tournament and despite losing four key starters, they look to make that decisive step in 2022.
Lady Viking head coach Chris McClure begins his 23rd season in charge of the program and has compiled an overall mark of 230-212 after leading girls to a 2021 mark of 15-8 overall.
Smoky Valley finished 11-7 in league play which was good for a fourth-place finish and then lost to Haven in the regional championship battle, preventing them from making the coveted trip to state.
Most important for the Lady Vikings will be to replace four key starters including catcher Claire Broxterman who is now playing for Bethel College as well as outfielder Olivia Morgan who earned honorable mention all-league honors in 2021, plus both of Morgan outfield starting teammates.
What Smoky Valley does have is seven top notch players returning that includes first-team all-state and all-Central Kansas League first baseman senior Madi Tolle.
Three other all-league performers coming back will be sophomore Maliyah Koster who as just a freshman made all-league as a utility player, while junior Karee Adam earned second-team all-league as a pitcher and sophomore Ava Broxterman gained honorable mention all-league as the second baseman. Adam will also do some pitching and Koster should be the starting shortstop for 2022.
There other key returnees will be senior infielders Riley Ahlstedt and Catherine O’dell plus junior infielder/pitcher Maggie Ryals.
One newcomer to the team that coach McClure mentioned with excitement was Rylie Tolle.
“We have a lot of talent and experience returning,” said Coach McClure in a few pre-season comments. “We will obviously need to replace our catcher and three outfield positions. We know that the Central Kansas League is always tough, especially with those at the top like Hoisington, Haven, and Pratt.”
The Lady Vikings will be opening the 2022 season with a pair of road battles at Nickerson on Tuesday, March 29 and at Southeast of Saline on Friday, April 1 before making their home debut on Monday, April 4 when they will host Hillsboro.
(William is a free-lance writer covering McPherson County Activities – he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)