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By Mark Jurgena
It will be a mix of inexperience at several positions and a veteran presence in the circle for the Collinsville High School girls softball team this spring.
Third-year coach Jess Schmittling looks to build on last year’s 11-19 mark that fell to Edwardsville in the regional championship a season ago.
“We have one senior, so we’ll be young this year but looking forward to a lot of kids that are going to be great leaders for the program they’re just young so far as varsity experience,” said Schmittling. “We’re excited about what that means but we know we’ll be working through what our identity is going to be regardless of the opponent this year.”
Lilly Fuehner is the team’s only senior. After recovering from an injury she looks to be a productive member of the Kahoks.
“She’s just really itching to make an impact this year both from a leadership perspective and a physical perspective,” Schmittling said.
CHS has two returners – both juniors – from last season’s five all-SWC performers.
Lexi Rafalowski and Katie Bardwell return to lead the squad.
Rafalowski was named second-team all-conference a year ago.
She hit .361 and produced an on-base percentage of .446. Rafalowski had 30 hits on the season and led the Kahoks with 32 stolen bases.
“She was a main staple for us in center field last year,” said Schmittling. “She kind of bounced around in the hitting lineup. She’s a slapper with a lot of speed. She’s been working hard in the offseason to be a big piece of production for us.”
Bardwell was listed on the third team. She had an on-base percentage of .317 for the season.
“She has had different roles for us,” Schmittling said. “She’s a true utility player. She’ll see time in lots of different places this year with catching being one of them as well as the left side of the infield as well as some outfield time. She’s a very versatile kid and a team player. She will step up and do whatever is asked.”
Marissa Thomas returns to the circle for her junior season. She started 21 of 28 games for Collinsville one year ago.
The Kahoks opened their season Monday at Highland and traveled to Roxana on Tuesday however results from those games were unavailable at press time.
They return to action today for their home opener against Mascoutah. The first pitch for that game will be at 4:30 p.m. at the Collinsville Sports Complex. Saturday they travel to Springfield to face Sacred Heart-Griffin.
On Monday they host Bethalto (Civic Memorial) and Wednesday will be at Freeburg.