Prairie Home softball coach Tad Shotten was emphatic about his mission for the 2018 season.
With only 10 players suited out for the season and with only four returnings starters, Shotten said this fall is definitely a rebuilding year.
“We’re a young team,” Shotten said. “We don’t have any seniors so the team is made up of mostly underclassmen. Coming off two games last year every game we play from this point forward is going to be good for us.
“We have two good pitchers who are interchangeable so they can catch and play in the field as well. We’re young but we have some talent. As for the weakness, I would say depth and not having a season last year.”
With the season hinging on how fast the Lady Panthers improve, Shotten said from what the girls have told him Calvary Lutheran is probably the favorite in the conference this fall.
“We’ll see where the pieces fall after that,” Shotten said.
As for the pitching rotation, Shotten said sophomore Shaye Siegel will do a lot of the pitching this season along with sophomore Maggie Wood.
And when Siegel isn’t pitching in the circle for the Lady Panthers, Shotten said she will probably  be behind the plate at catcher. Shotten said Wood will catch some as well. “Shayne is probably one of our better hitters so I will need to bat her around the 3-4 or 4-5 spot,” Shotten said. “As for Maggie, she will be one of our best on base players. I think our pitching will be fine. They will find the strike zone. However if things go bad how are we going to react to that being a young team.”
Along with Siegel and Wood at catcher, Shotten said sophomore Kelsey Watson could also see some action at catcher and shortstop.
As for the infield, sophomore Madison Bishop will get the starting nod at first base with junior Ashlyn Twenter playing alongside her at second base.
Shotten said Bishop has a lot of potential and can move pretty well at first. “Madison is a good athlete, and she is also left handed,” Shotten said. “As for Ashlyn at second, she is probably the best overall athlete. She is big into basketball but I think she will also help us with her bat being a power hitter.”
On the left side of the infield, Watson will play shortstop alongside junior Olivia Strobel at third base.
Shotten said Watson is definitely the best infielder for the Lady Panthers and will bat either lead off or second.
“She can hit, bunt and steal,” Shotten said. “As for Olivia, she has a strong arm and will also pitch some, probably as the No. 3 pitcher in the rotation. We are really focusing on making every throw count in practice.”
In the outfield, Shotten said freshman Paiton Williams will start in center with sophomore Kaelyn Crews in left and freshman Allison Simmons in right.
Shotten said Williams is a good athlete and can hit pretty well. “Paiton is young but she is one of our best all-around players and definitely one of the better practice players. As for Kaelyn, she will make the routine plays for us. She is also a pretty good hitter. Allison, meanwhile, will play some first as well this fall. She is another great practice player with a great attitude.”
Shotten said freshman Kaylee Angle will get some playing time in right field as well. He said she has shown in practice to be a decent bunter.