Photo by Jeff Helmkamp
Emma Lucas (left)
Roxana junior Emma Lucas looks to continue her attack on the school record books for the 2017 season.
Lucas led the Shells with 22 goals last season as a sophomore, a year after scoring a team-high 23 goals as a freshman.
“Emma Lucas will continue to have a big impact on the field,” Roxana coach Lori Yates said. “She has been our leading scorer the last two years.”
In the last two years, Lucas has established herself not only as one of the best players in the South Central Conference, but as one of the best players in the Metro East. She earned all-conference honors twice.
Lucas leads a young, talented team that features 11 juniors, including Mykala Rosales and Brynn Huddelston.
“I look for the junior class to lead the team this year,” Yates said.
The one area the Shells may be lacking is on defense, where they lost a number of important seniors.
“We are working on rebuilding our defense due to graduating many defenders in the last two years,” Yates said. “Our goalie (Braeden Lackey) is a junior, so that will be a big help. “
The Shells hope to take advantage of a deep, experienced bullpen this year. After a 15-18 campaign last year, the Shells return this year with nine seniors, five of whom are pitchers.
Leading the way are Zach Golenor, Sam Mosby and Drew Ratliff. Golenor pitched 26 total innings last year in nine trips to the mound, finishing with a 3.77 ERA and 16 total strikeouts. Mosby compiled 23 strikeouts in 47.7 total innings pitched, including four shutout innings in last year’s regional final vs. Althoff. Ratliff compiled a 3-1 record over 20 innings pitched last year.
Also looking to make an impact on the mound is junior Logan Presley, who was called on several times last season as a sophomore.
The Shells will also be playing this season in a newly refurbished field, thanks to a $81,909 grant awarded by the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. The grant provided funding for the renovation of the infield and construction of new dugouts, a storage room and net backstops.
The Shells were scheduled to start their season on Thursday against EA-WR at their new field.
Roxana’s season ended last year on a down note.
The Shells lost 15-5 to Southwestern in six innings in the Class 2A Southwestern Regional first-round game, ending their season at 12-21.
This year, the Shells are back with a little more experience and are looking to have a better showing for 2017.
The Shells have a relatively young team with four seniors returning. Among them is Abby Palen, who finished last season with a .423 batting average.
Phoebe Booher, Margaret Palen and Olivia Stanger all had turns pitching last year and should anchor the staff this year.
Junior Hannah Rexford sustained an ACL injury during basketball, underwent surgery and will likely miss the entire season. She was 6-9 with a 1.79 ERA a year ago.
The Shells were scheduled to start their season Wednesday against New Athens at home.
Jordan Hawkins has been making his mark in the throwing events for the Shells for the last 2 years.
Hawkins threw a school-record 170 feet, 5 inches in the discus at the Roxana Relays, breaking his old mark of 161-4 that was set two weeks earlier at a quadrangular meet, and finished fourth in the event at the Class 2A state meet as a sophomore.
This year, Hawkins is recovering from a shoulder injury that occurred during the football season last fall.
Roxana coach Julie Akal said he is on the practice field getting ready for the season.
“Jordan has done everything he is supposed to do, recovery-wise,” she said. “He is strong, and I expect him to be back at the top again soon. He’s already had some great throws out on the practice field.”
Akal said 40 boys came out for the team this year, including a strong group of juniors returning from last year.
Shalyn Edwards, Taylor Jackson, Jenna Rudd, Darcy Hobbs and Brooke Davis are among the returning athletes for the Shells, who began their season March 11 at the Jersey Indoor Thaw at Principia College.
Michaela Tarpley turned in Roxana’s best finish in the indoor meet, placing ninth in the 3,200.
Matt Meyers, Gabe Kunz, D.W. Pirtle, Kyle DeWerff, Alec Revelle and Trustin Dunse are back for another season for the Shells, who were scheduled to start their season Wednesday against Waterloo.
Roxana has a match against Marquette Catholic on March 22 and Hillsboro on March 27.