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Eagles tuns to new players to build on past success

By Erich Pitcher
On February 20, 2018

Replacing key contributors is essential at any level of collegiate sports. Teams lose players to graduation, transfer and other reasons. This, coupled with many years of constant success and a winning tradition, can create a high level of expectation that some teams could see as unfair.          The Kirkwood Community College softball team is facing this but they are looking forward to continuing the winning tradition with their own twist.  

The Eagles will begin their 2018 campaign on Feb. 17 against the St. Ambrose junior varsity squad. The game is part of the two-day Winter Dome tournament played in Davenport. At the tournament, Kirkwood will play five games and that will test the team’s mettle early.  

“We are trying to figure out our everyday starters, we have key injuries and we will have to throw everyone into the fire a little bit early on,” said Head Softball Coach Joe Yegge. 

 On top of fighting the injury bug, the squad must find a way to replace some potent firepower. Gone is two-time National Junior College Player of the Year Taylor Nerad. Nerad graduated following two record setting years at Kirkwood. She holds the record for career batting average (.561), hits (112) and home runs (46). Also departing were all-Americans Maddie Hansen, Lexi Kinnaird, and Morgan Frost. 

Although they lost some key contributors, the cupboard was not left bare for the Eagles. DonniRae Mayhew is returning following a strong freshman campaign. The University of Iowa signee carried a batting average of .440 with 18 home runs and 83 runs batted in. Also returning is catcher Monica Bevins and a strong middle infield.  

Despite the returners, losing some potent offensive players leads to a slight change in run production. “We are going to have to manufacture runs with a different style of offense. It’s going to be old school (by) stealing, bunting and sacrificing,” Yegge stated.  

These players were key to the success of the softball team last season. The Eagles were dominant throughout the regular season posting a final record of 55-6. This allowed them to be ranked in the top for most the season and being on a roll going into the national tournament. However, Kirkwood lost two consecutive games and was eliminated from the tournament.  

The Eagles were picked to finish second in the conference to rival Des Moines Area Community College. This is unchartered waters for the Eagles in comparison to past seasons.  But the Eagles are focused on the season and not preseason predictions. 

“Right now, it is about controlling cabin fever. We can get tired of doing the same things. We are doing a good job of staying positive. We have started live throwing and hitting. We are looking forward to some competitiveness and getting healthy,” he added.

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