WCAC Softball Preview: WG’s youth looks to compete
West Central Activities Conference softball was a tossup all season as five teams had between 14 and 17 conference wins. But can that balance remain in place?
2019 was slow moving for the Hawks following a 1-13 start and a coaching change. From there on, they were 6-18 while placing a large emphasis on the base paths. W-G stole a WCAC-high 94 bases. Only one was tagged out, also the best in the conference. All but three steals come back this year.
Sitting in the middle of the road last season, the Chargers come back an even larger mystery as four of the starting five batters graduated as did their pitcher with 27 starts.
Des Moines Christian (12-19)
DMC came into 2019 fresh off a 24-win season only to fall into the middle of the pack despite a bulk of the roster returning. Now more has been thrown into question with a young group stepping in. Keep an eye on Kaleigh Friend who launched six homers as an eighth-grader.
The Cardinals have won at least 29 games the past two seasons after multiple losing seasons. A trio of juniors look to keep that up. Alli Boyle and Emma Jensen bring the plate presence while ace Madeline Janssen was 13th in the state with 267 strikeouts.
Interstate 35 (18-11)
Just shy of 20 wins, it may be easy to look past the Roadrunners. The second-best ERA in the conference says otherwise, particularly considering Ava Knoll and Katie Murphy return to the only staff bringing back two pitchers with a sub-3.00 ERA and eight wins.
The Tigers’ season rose and fell by Erica Bruns’ arm last season. With the sophomore in the pitcher’s circle, Madrid went 11-8. Without the ace and her 2.23 ERA, they were 1-8. The offense also struggled with only two top-50 hitters, both of whom graduated.
Ogden (26-8, state qualifier)
After sliding by the WCAC’s winningest team Earlham in the regional championship, Ogden landed in the state consolation bracket. With 22 home run hitter Denali Locker back in action, there’s little to suggest a slide backward.
The Panthers were one of the best case studies with the Hawks last season as the two split their doubleheader 14-14. The difference this year is the returning roster. Panorama lost its two most efficient batters to graduation.
The young Trojans’ WCA debut came with great success, moving from 22 wins in 2018 to 25 last season. That was captured thanks to a league-best .410 batting average that also hit for power with 27 homers total.
Van Meter (26-10)
The Bulldogs’ season came to a hat as soon as the postseason started after running into Earlham. A deeper run this season will have to make do without three leading batters over .400 at the plate.
West Central Valley (5-25)
The growing pains continued for WCV last year as the Wildcats have had just two seasons over five wins since 2010. That didn’t stop them from having a couple shining spots like a 14-7 win over Seymour (17-14). All but one starter returns.