Coming off a banner season that featured an 8-1 championship finish in the South Central Conference, an overall mark of 15-6 and a Class 2A regional championship, the Piasa Birds are angling for more of the same.
Southwestern coach Peg Mitchell, beginning her fourth season, sees encouraging signs. The Piasa Birds return six of their nine starters in Kelsey Rhoades, Hannah Wilfong, Katie Wooldridge, Lindsey Snyder, Randi Hopkins and Ashlyn Ringhausen.
Snyder hit .489 last season, Wilfong batted .413 and Wooldridge carried a .372 average. Snyder had a team-best 16 RBIs. Wilfong could serve as the team’s top pitcher this season.
“We also expect two freshmen (Mallory Novack and Rae Brandon) to play pivotal roles,” said Mitchell, formerly a basketball coach at Lewis and Clark Community College.
The Piasa Birds were scheduled to open their season March 22 with a doubleheader at Columbia. Their first four games and six of the opening seven are slated to be played on the road. Southwestern’s home opener is April 3 against Rock Falls.
The team also is set to play five games in two days (April 18-19) at O’Fallon. Edwardsville, Triad and the host Panthers will be among the competition.
“With this many returning players, our expectations are high,” Mitchell said. “Even though we won a conference championship and a regional championship, our expectations are greater than last year.”
Mitchell added, “With the senior leadership and the desire to excel, we can be a very driven team this year. The conference is a constant battle and we are always looking at the next team we play as our biggest challenge.
“We have to be prepared and come to play and execute our game plan every day. If we do that, the wins will take care of themselves.”
SOUTHWESTERN PIASA BIRDS
Coach: Peg Mitchell
Overall Record: 45-27
Last Year: 15-6
Last Year’s Results
W Staunton, 6-2
L Columbia, 9-2
L Columbia, 11-1
W CM, 3-0
W Metro East Lutheran, 8-0
L Alton, 2-0
W Pana, 9-2
W Jersey, 11-5
W Roxana, 6-0
W Roxana, 14-3
L Carlinville, 13-4
L Litchfield, 7-6
L Edwardsville, 11-1
W Greenville, 5-4
W Vandalia, 8-6
W Hillsboro, 4-0
W Gillespie, 15-11
W Dupo, 15-5
W Roxana, 9-1
W Litchfield, 9-4
L Williamsville, 2-0
This Year’s Schedule
March 22 – at Columbia (2), 11 a.m.
March 28 – at Jersey, 4:15
March 29 – at Metro East Lutheran (2), 11 a.m.
April 3—Rock Falls, 4
April 4 – at Hillsboro*, 4:30
April 8 – at Roxana*, 4:30
April 11 – Staunton*, 4:30
April 15 – at CM, 4:30
April 18 – at O’Fallon, with Edwardsville and Dupo, 10 a.m.
April 19 – Triad and DuQuoin at O’Fallon, 10 a.m.
April 23 – at Carlinville*, 4:30
April 25 – North Mac, 4:30
April 26 – at Alton (2), 10 a.m.
April 28 – at Pana*, 4:30
April 30 – at EA-WR, 4:30
May 2 – Roxana*, 4:30
May 3 – at Calhoun (2), 11 a.m.
May 5 – Carlinville*, 4:30
May 9 – Gillespie*, 4:30
May 12 – at Greenville, 4:30
May 14 – Vandalia*, 4:30
May 17 – at Carrollton (2), 10 a.m.
*Denotes conference games
Randi Hopkins, outfielder, Sr.
Lindsey Snyder, shortstop, Sr.
Hannah Wilfong, pitcher-first baseman, Sr.
Katie Wooldridge, second baseman-shortstop, Sr.
Rachel Baldwin, first baseman-third baseman, Jr.
Ashlyn Ringhausen, infielder-outfielder, Jr.
Meghan Peuterbaugh, outfielder, Jr.
Ellie Trometta, outfielder, Jr.
Taylor Nixon, outfielder-pitcher, Soph.
Hannah Inman, outfielder, Soph.
Kelsey Rhoades, infielder-outfielder, Soph.
Regan Rinacke, second baseman, Soph.
MacKenzie Wolff, shortstop, Soph.