The task appears daunting for coach Rob Davenport and Platte County with such a long list of departures.
The Pirates will return just three starters from last year, and their losses include both pitchers from an 18-12 season that ended with a loss to Smithville in the Class 3 District 15 championship game. Longtime stalwart in the pitcher’s circle Mallory Stoner — a 2014 Class 3 all-state pick when the Pirates reached the state championship game — and Linley Weicken developed into a strong tandem late last season.
An experienced group ended up missing a return to the playoffs despite an 8-2 finish in Suburban Conference Blue Division play.
The positives include the return of two starters from the 2014 state runner-up — first baseman Lauren Magee and shortstop Tori Farr. Anna Townsend ended up winning the battle to start at catcher and developed into a key piece of the lineup in her junior season. All three earned all-conference honors last year.
Who pitches to Townsend will be more of a developing story.
On the roster, 24 of 28 players are either freshmen or sophomores, and Davenport expects sophomore Shayla Kohler and freshman Gracie Erickson to be the top choices on the mound. The Pirates will also need to replace 2015 all-region third baseman Lou Menninger and all-region outfielder Alexis Ray, who signed to play Division I at South Dakota State.
“Our goal at this point is to get everybody up to speed with how our program functions,” Davenport said. “We have a lot to learn so the learning curve has to be steep. We have a great group of girls, however, so it should be a fun ride.”