CLOVERDALE -- When you have a couple standout players coming back from last year's team, that's a good sign. Add to the mix of a solid freshmen class, it's an even better sign.
That's why CHS Coach Chuck Mowery is confident about the 2009 softball season.
"We have a good mixture of seniors, juniors, sophomores and a good young freshman class coming in this year, so I think that we will be competitive," Mowery said.
Three seniors return to Clovers' lineup this season in third baseman Kristin McCammon, shortstop Kayla Shepherd and outfielder Whitney Bond. But the player that Mowery is really looking to make an impact on the team this year is freshman pitcher Paige Gutierrez.
"She has a lot of experience coming in as a freshman from travel ball and that is what you want in your pitcher," Mowery said.
In fact, Mowery says that he is looking at a couple of freshmen to make an impact on the team this year.
"My first baseman and centerfielder are both freshmen and have some good experience coming from travel ball," Mowery said.
Even though he is counting on his freshmen to make an impact on his team this year, Mowery said that it's more than one class that he is looking for contributions from.
"I'm looking for everybody on this team to contribute this year," Mowery said. "Not just the freshmen or the seniors, I'm looking for everyone to make a contribution.
"We don't have one standout player that can carry this team. We have 11 or 12 players that rally around each other," Mowery said.
One thing that Mowery has been putting a lot of time into this year -- hitting.
"We have been putting a lot of effort into batting practice this season," Mowery said. "Every day we go over the fundamentals of batting and we won't know until the season starts, but I think we will have some solid hitters that can put the ball into play."
Two of Mowery's returning seniors should do some damage in the batter's box for the Clovers this year. Shepherd and McCammon were both hitting over .300 last season, with Shepherd hitting over .400 in West Central Conference games. One other major hitter returning to the Clovers' lineup is catcher Martika Byrd. She led the team with a .462 batting average and hit over .500 in the WCC.
With three major hitters back this year, Mowery should be able to correct the one problem that Cloverdale had in 2008 -- scoring.
"We struggled in scoring last year," Mowery said. "We played 20 games last year and seven of those we didn't score a run in.
"You can't win games if you don't score runs and with the speed we have this year, I think we will," Mowery said.
Mowery said the main goal for the his team this year is to win the county, conference and sectional championships, but as long as they put their best effort forward he is happy.
"The No. 1 rule on this team is to put out our best effort, have a good attitude and compete," Mowery said. "And that's what I ask them."
The Clovers open their season on Saturday when they host Edinburgh at 11 a.m.