AMBOY – Amboy High School softball coach Kelly Whitman has an interesting situation for the 2023 season.
She has three upperclassmen surrounded by 13 freshmen and sophomores.
However, thanks to a competitive nature and travel ball, Whitman is coaching experienced youth.
“We’re young. We have one senior, two juniors, and the rest are freshmen and sophomores,” said Whitman, who has been with the program since it started in 2000 and has been the coach since 2008. “We have a young pitching core with two freshmen – Alyvia Whelchel and Ellie McLaughlin – and Gloria Parker, a sophomore, who saw limited action last season.
“We’re young, but we have a senior and two returning juniors as well as a few sophomores who saw varsity action last season. Our freshmen coming in have played a lot of travel ball. We have players to step into the spots that we lost from last year.”
The AHS physical education, health, and driver’s education teacher led the Lady Clippers to a 6-12 record last season. After May’s graduation, AHS lost three players including star pitcher Hannah Blanton.
With Whelchel, McLaughlin, and Parker on the mound to fill the duties in the circle, Whitman is checking all her options in the field and at the plate.
Jersey Thomas is the lone senior who transferred from Rock Falls. During the offseason, she signed to play softball next spring at Sauk Community College. She will be at third or catcher for the Lady Clippers.
The two returning juniors with a lot of varsity innings under their belt are Addison Shaw, who started in centerfield last year and will be back in the position, and Maddison O’Mailey.
Sophomore Tyrah Vaessen was a catcher last year. This season she will be behind the plate but may see time at shortstop as well. Sophomore Haleight Stenzel was at short stop and may play short, catcher, or first base during this campaign.
“With this young group, a lot of them can play different positions. They may see the infield and the outfield. We’re still working on the pieces to the puzzle and figuring it all out,” Whitman said. “The nice thing is, we have people pushing each other for positions. Nothing is locked in yet, except for pitchers because we’re limited.
“Other than center field where Addison Shaw will be, the other positions are open and need to be claimed.”