Photo by Bill Roseberry
Pictured is the 2016 Roxana softball team. Members of the team are: Sam Sherer, Alexis Stumpf, Taylor Antoine, Ashley Betts, Shelbie Jackson, Abby Palen, Phoebe Booher, Hannah Rexford, Sage Ross, Lindsey Scroggins, Alexis Counts, Margaret Palen, Kaylee Stamper, Abby Stahlhut and Olivia Stangler.
Hannah Rexford likes the look of the Roxana Shells this season and that’s a promising sign.
The sophomore could serve as the catalyst for a Roxana team that went 17-17 last season and won 8 of its last 10 games. The Shells played their best softball at the end of the 2015 season.
“It could be a good year for us,” said Rexford, a 5-foot-7 left-hander. “We ended last season on a good note and I think that will carry over to this season. So I’m excited about this year.”
The same goes for coach Mike Arbuthnot, getting set to start the season Saturday when Roxana plays host to Mascoutah in a doubleheader. The Shells then welcome defending Class 1A state champion Calhoun on March 23 and entertain rival Civic Memorial the next night.
“We feel like we have the pitching and that we can compete every day,” Arbuthnot said. Earlier this month, he guided the Highland girls’ basketball team to a third-place finish in the Class 3A state tournament at Normal.
Now, it’s softball season and he’s stoking the Shells’ high hopes.
It starts with Rexford, who was 14-9 with a 1.12 ERA last season. She also batted .476, with 14 RBIs and 45 stolen bases. Rexford likely will be playing first base or in center field when she’s not pitching. Sophomore Phoebe Booher also will hurl for the Shells.
“Hannah has a lot of tools and a lot of things going for her,” Arbuthnot said. “She does a lot of little things right. So there’s no doubt about it — she has a chance to be a really good one.”
Older sister Elizabeth Rexford and first baseman Cindy Scroggins graduated from last year’s squad, but Arbuthnot has a good corps of players returning.
Junior catcher Shelbie Jackson and junior shortstop Abby Palen are two of them. Jackson, an outfielder last season, batted .272 with 12 RBIs. Palen hit .279 with 2 home runs and 27 RBIs.
“Shelbie is making a good transition and she has been catching Hannah a lot,” Arbuthnot said. “She’s also swinging the bat pretty well.”
Palen provides the Shells with offensive production and defensive stability.
“She’s the glue in our infield and has good leadership ability,” Arbuthnot said.
Abby Stahlhut, a freshman, is battling Carrollton transfer Alexis Counts, for playing time at first base. Arbuthnot said Counts also will log some action at third base.
Senior Alexis Stumpf and freshman Kaylee Stamper are cast in the mix for starting at second base. Counts, Booher and Stahlhut could divide time at third base, with freshman Margaret Palen also getting some infield work.
Freshman Kaylee Stamper will back up Jackson behind the plate. Senior Sam Sherer, plus juniors Taylor Antoine and Ashley Betts, could fill the outfield slots. Betts likely will play center field.
Sophomores Sage Ross and Lindsey Scroggins add outfield depth and freshman Olivia Stangler supplies infield strength, Arbuthnot said.
“We will focus on moving the runners over on offense and playing the game the right way,” he added. “We had an enjoyable year last season and we hope what we did at the end of it carries over to this season.
“We have a great group of kids returning and they have a great attitude.”
He figures Gillespie and Staunton will be among the teams to beat in the 10-school South Central Conference, but sees the Shells progressing and becoming a player in the league chase.
Sam Sherer OF
Alexis Stumpf 2B
Taylor Antoine OF
Ashley Betts OF
Shelbie Jackson C
Abby Palen SS
Phoebe Booher P, 3B
Hannah Rexford P, IB, OF
Sage Ross OF
Lindsey Scroggins OF
Alexis Counts 1B, 3B
Margaret Palen INF, OF
Kaylee Stamper C, INF
Abby Stahlhut 1B, 3B
Olivia Stangler 2B, 3B
March 19 — vs. Mascoutah (DH), 10 a.m.
March 23 — vs. Calhoun, 4:30 p.m.
March 24 — vs. CM, 4:15 p.m.
March 25 — at Breese Central, 11 a.m.
March 26 — vs. Pana*, noon
March 28 — at Alton, 4 p.m.
March 29 — vs. Staunton*, 4:30 p.m.
March 30 — vs. Jersey, 4:30 p.m.
April 1 — vs. Litchfield*, 4:30 p.m.
April 2 — at Granite City (DH), 11 a.m.
April 4 — at Greenville*, 4:30 p.m.
April 5 — vs. Southwestern*, 4:30 p.m.
April 6 — at EA-WR, 4 p.m.
April 8 — vs. Gillespie*, 4:30 p.m.
April 11 — vs. Freeburg, 4:30 p.m.
April 12 — vs. Bunker Hill, 4 p.m.
April 14 — vs. MELHS, 4 p.m.
April 15 — vs. O’Fallon, 4:15 p.m.
April 16 — at GIbault (DH) 11 a.m.
April 18 — at Hillsboro*, 4 p.m.
April 19 — at Highland, 4:15 p.m.
April 20 — at Staunton, 4:30 p.m.
April 22 — at Gillespie, 4:30 p.m.
April 23 — at Collinsville (DH), 10 a.m.
April 25 — at Carlinville*, 5 p.m.
April 29 — at Southwestern, 4:30 p.m.
May 2 — vs. EA-WR, 4 p.m.
May 4 — at Marquette Catholic, 4:30 p.m.
May 5 — vs. Vandalia*, 4:30 p.m.
May 6 — Carlinville, 5 p.m.
*Denotes conference games