Experience and confidence are the key words to describe this year's Monett Lady Cubs softball team as it prepares for the season opener Tuesday at home versus non-conference opponent Ash Grove.
"We are excited about this season," said Head Coach Ty Goetz. "We had a good summer, going 7-3 in the Ash Grove League.
"Our conference and district should be wide open this season. I think we have a chance at competing for both the conference title and district title," Goetz said. "With the return of five All-Conference performers and three All-District performers and a good bunch of freshmen, we should be very competitive this season."
Returning starters include senior All-Conference and All-District catcher EmiLee Davis, senior All-Conference and All-District centerfielder Tiffany Carver, junior All-Conference second baseman Logan Swope, junior All-Conference and All-District pitcher Paige Marney, junior All-Conference utility player Avery Bounous, senior shortstop Bailey Wormington and senior third baseman Aubrey Lemaster.
Other returning lettermen include junior utility player Katie Upchurch and sophomore utility player Ashley Schmidly.
Coach Goetz cited his top prospects as junior catcher/outfielder Paula Chernowsky, who moved to Monett from Houston, Mo., junior infielder Anna Arnaud, freshman pitcher Raigan Ratliff, freshman infielder/outfielder Josee Krueger and freshman infielder Jessica Harper.
Other players on the team include freshmen Whitley Bohannan, Andrea Soriano, Hannah Arnold and Cassidy Franke; sophomores Meagen Shearburn and Gabrielle Phillips; and senior Megan Wiseman.
Coming off a year when the Cubs were 13-13 overall and 4-2 in the league, Goetz said, "Seneca and Carl Junction will be tough in conference play. McDonald County was district champion last season and will be tough again this year."
Monett's remaining schedule is as follows: Aug. 28 at Crane; Aug. 29, Ash Grove Tournament; Sept. 3 at Cassville; Sept. 7, Republic here; Sept. 8, Lamar here; Sept. 10 at Southwest; Sept. 15, Seneca here; Sept. 17 at East Newton; Sept. 22 at Carl Junction; Sept. 24 at Aurora; Sept. 29 at McDonald County; Oct. 1, East Newton here; Oct. 2, Carthage Tournament; Oct. 5, Reeds Spring, here; and Oct. 6 at Wheaton.