Panthers softball team poised for a great season

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After advancing to the Class 4A District playoffs in 2012, the Woodland Park High School girls’ softball team is ready to take its next huge step.

“We’re thinking a league championship and maybe even the state playoffs,” said Panthers coach Dale Huntington.

“We should be pretty solid this year. We did some camps and did some summer ball and I think we’re ready.”

The team’s motto this year is “Coming together is the BEGINNING. Staying together is PROGRESS. Working together is SUCCESS.” The players are taking that to heart.

“We need to trust each other and work as a team,” said Panthers senior pitcher Mallorie Trichell, who is considering Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri, and the University of Louisiana-Monroe, among colleges. “We have a good solid defense on the infield, and our outfield is pretty good. We’re also pretty good offensively.”

Huntington lost several key players from last year’s squad that posted a 14-7 overall record, 8-2 in the Class 4A Metro League.

Among those who graduated are Danni Lopez (playing for Friends University in Wichita, Kansas) and Michaela Huntington (playing for Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas).

The Panthers hit .488 with 25 home runs. They were also aggressive on the base paths, swiping 118 bases in 133 attempts.

This year’s team should produce more of the same as Woodland Park returns six starters. Trichell was a force in 2012, blasting nine home runs with 41 RBIs (among the state leaders in both categories) to go along with a .571 batting average. She was 4-6 on the mound with a 4.26 ERA, recording 32 strikeouts and 17 walks. She earned co-league offensive player of the year honors.

Senior Kelee Suggs (.548, five homers, 40 RBIs) was the team’s starting catcher in 2012, but she will likely be converted to shortstop this fall. She was the league’s defensive player of the year in 2012.

“When our bats come around we’re pretty fantastic,” Suggs said.

Trichell and Suggs were part of Huntington’s Aqua Sox club team that won 24 games and four tournaments this summer.

“Kelee might be our best all-around hitter,” Huntington said. “She and Mallorie will drive in runs, for sure.”

Junior Lexi Comer (.439, 3, 29) will likely take over the bulk of the catching duties and also see time at second base. Suggs is also the team’s back up pitcher.

Also back in a starting role is junior first baseman Brenna Peters (.517, 1, 23), junior outfielder Jeanette Worscheck ((.422, 1, 10), sophomore and outfielder Christina Cunningham (.420, 2, 19).

Junior outfielder Linda Shaffer (.214, 1, 5) saw a handful of playing time in 2012 and will be relied on quite a bit this season.

Among the top newcomers are sophomores Morgan Suggs, Savannah Simpson and Gabby Talbot.

Woodland Park opens its season Thursday at Palmer Ridge in a 4 p.m. start.

The Panthers host Sand Creek on Friday at 4 p.m. at Woodland Park Middle School, and Conifer on Saturday at 11 a.m.

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