Caleb Riordan | Ameritime Sports Writer
The softball season is right around the corner and the Hillsboro Hawks are ready to take on a year of new challenges. The Hawks finished last season 18-10 and ended their year with a heartbreaking loss to Farmington in the District Championship.
Last year’s team graduated ten Seniors. However, there are plenty of familiar faces returning to the 2021 squad. The loss of those ten Seniors can’t be overstated, but the expectations for this team remain the same. They want to be in a position to win at the end of the year.
“My goal is to win Conference and Districts and go to State and my expectations have to reflect those goals,” Elly Eckrich said. “We have to believe as a team that we can get there.”
Eckrich is heading into her Senior season with the Hawks. Last year she put together 17 RBIs, scored 12 runs and had a batting average of .434. She was also a workhorse in the circle. She pitched 83 innings, struck out a whopping 117 batters and held a 2.19 ERA.
Eckrich is among a core group of Seniors returning to the team. Hailey Genge, Sara Stokes, Kora King and Ashlyn Dean are also Seniors that are going to help lead the Hawks this season. Genge scored 34 runs last year, which led the team. She also had three home runs, 17 RBIs and had a .397 batting average. Stokes finished her season with 19 RBIs and scored 16 runs. Dean scored 18 runs and King put together six RBIs and scored 13 runs.
“I think all five of our Seniors should be our top performers this season,” Head Coach Kevin Lucas said. “They know what is expected and have the most experience.”
Lucas also mentioned sophomore Lauren Nichols as a key contributor because she started a majority of their games last season. She will absolutely channel that experience into helping this team succeed.
There are no questions about this team’s goals. They are hungry for postseason success.
“I think all of our games are key games this year,” Lucas said. “We are trying to get girls the Varsity experience they need for us to be successful at the end of the season. Just like every year, our goal is to win a Conference and District Championship.”
Lucas pointed toward his team’s pitching as one of their greatest strengths this year. He also mentioned they still have some work to do to be as good as they can be.
“Our pitching should be our strength since we return Elly Eckrich,” he said. “We return some pretty good hitters too. I think we have some aspects that will be a work in progress since we have some girls without a lot of Varsity experience.”
Junior Cassidy Herget and Sophomore Peyton Uphoff are among the returning underclassmen Hawks. They both had some time on varsity early last year before injuries played a factor and they finished the season mostly playing JV. Junior Brookylnn Hudson, Sophomore Kaylee Hilton, Sophomore Chloe Hicks, Sophomore Baylee Scallet, Sophomore Maddy Shelby and Freshman Olivia Peters all figure to see significant varsity time as well.
Hillsboro wants to make noise this season, and they are set up to do so. They have a great group of Seniors and a solid supporting cast to get the job done. The only thing left is to execute. Be on the lookout for the Hawks to be in a position to put their names in some record books by the end of the year.