By Scot Shearer | Mar 23, 2023 12:21 PM
LAKEVILLE, IN. – As the 2023 high school softball season is set for the first pitch, LaVille head coach Cassie Rossman says the Lancers have spent time “getting back to the root.” “Practices have been intense,” said Rossman, the second-year Lancer coach. “We’ve spent a lot of time getting back to the root, the fundamentals and breaking things down. We’ve also spent a lot of time doing station work to make the most out of our 2 hours together. I’ve seen tremendous improvement from all of our girls this off season.” LaVille finished the 2022 campaign with a 8-15 overall mark and 4-3 in the Hoosier North Athletic Conference. The Lancers return seven letterwinners from a year ago. Among those back are senior center fielder Heaylyn Kwiatkowski and classmate first baseman Karisma Lewis. Kwiatkowski hit .366 with 18 runs batted in while earning All-HNAC first-team honors. Kwiatkowski also led the team in stolen bases and extra-base hits. Lewis hit .343 with 16 RBIs and was an All-HNAC honorable mention selection. Senior utility player Hannah Levy Kelly, who hit .167 last season, is also back. Junior Cailtyn Goffinet returns after a .348 season with 11 RBIs. The left fielder also garnered All-HNAC first-team honors. Others back include junior utility player Porsha Coffin (.250 batting average) and third baseman Cambree Howe (.341 BA), along with sophomore catcher Jasmine Foster (.341 BA). “Caitlyn, Heaylyn, and Karimsa are only going to get better and be more dominant this year,” said Rossman. “Those three have been putting in the work this off season to really step up and be leaders again this year on the field. I think our team will go as far as they will go.” LHS must replace five players for the 2023 season – Ayva Barger, Ava Barrett-Heaton, Quincy Blodgett, Abby Goffinet and Kylie Gorka. “We lost some big players due to graduation,” said Rossman. “Abby Goffinet, Kylie Gorka and Ayva Barger. . . . we lost Quincy Blodgett this year. All of these girls will be difficult to replace; however, our team this year has been working extremely hard in the offseason to try to fill some of those gaps.” According to Rossman, ready to step in at pitcher are a trio of freshmen – Faith Mejer, Olivia Markin, and Lexis Owens. “Our #1 pitcher is freshman Faith Mejer,” Rossman said. “But make no mistake, she doesn’t play like a freshman. She throws hard and has a softball IQ that will blow your mind. She has also taken some of the other freshman pitchers under her wing and has helped in their growth.” Back for her second season behind the plate is Jasmine Foster. The sophomore made just three errors in 94 chances to lead the team with a .968 fielding percentage. She also hit .325 and was second on the team in extra-base hits. “There is no question that Jasmine will be our #1 catcher,” said Rossman. “She is one of the hardest working players I have ever coached. We’re working on her being more of a vocal leader this year in calling out plays and talking to our defense so everyone knows what to do with the ball on the next play.” Infielders look to be Howe at third, either Owens or Mejer at short, depending on who is pitching, Markin at second and Lewis at first. “Our infield is strong,” says Rossman. “From previous years we know Cambree is a vacuum and will knock down any ball hit her way. Faith and Lexis compliment each other well because they are both quick to the ball and have cannons to throw anyone out at first base. Olivia is steady at 2nd base with the ability to make great plays. Karisma is one of the toughest 1st basemen I’ve ever seen. She gives her infield the confidence to just throw the ball knowing she will be there to scoop it up.” The outfield is led by Kwiatkowski and Goffinet, while the coaching staff is looking for a right fielder. “Outfield is going to be crazy fast,” the Lancer coach said. “We’re still deciding on who will be our right fielder. Right now we have Caitlyn in left and Heaylyn in center and I know for certain nothing is going to drop or get past them this year.” With five newcomers in the bunch, Rossman and her staff are confident. “I think all of our new players, all freshmen, will play key roles at different times,” explained Rossman. “I think it is huge for them to be able to step up and play varsity their freshman year and only get better. I am excited to see what they look like as juniors and seniors with the knowledge and skills they are soaking up right now.” Following a 4-3 record in HNAC play, Rossman thinks her squad may surprise some people this season. “I think without a doubt Caston will be tough as they have in the past, same with Pioneer,” Rossman said when asked about the conference. “However, I look to see us come from behind and surprise a lot of teams this year.” LaVille is scheduled to open the season at Bremen on March 29. The first pitch is set for 5 p.m. “I am so anxious about getting started this year,” concluded Rossman. “I truly feel like we have a dominant defense that won’t let much get past them as well as an explosive offense. We have been working really hard this offseason on mindset and mentality. “Our goal this year as a team is to have fun, play hard, and play together. We’ve also talked about the importance of picking each other up and brushing one another off when someone makes a mistake. But our biggest thing this year is giving one another and themselves some grace when it comes to errors or strikeouts. We are a young team with a ridiculous amount of potential and making mistakes is how we will get better. Historically, LaVille hasn’t been seen as the greatest softball program and we’re looking to change that this year. We are looking to make a name for ourselves in the HNAC and with surrounding schools.” LAVILLE SOFTBALL 2022 Overall (HNAC Record): 8-15 (4-3 HNAC) Head Coach: Cassie Rossman (8-15 overall in her second season) Assistant Coaches: Chris Beam, Emily Jones Letterwinners Lost: 4. Ayva Barger, Quincy Blodgett, Abby Goffinet, Kylie Gorka. Letterwinners Returning: 7. Seniors – Heaylyn Kwiatkowski (CF), Karisma Lewis (1B), Hannah Levy Kelly (Utility). Juniors – Porsha Coffin (Utility), Caitlyn Goffinet (LF), Cambree Howe (3B). Sophomore – Jasmine Foster (C). Newcomers: 5. Freshmen – Kylah Bell (utility), Emma Copeland (utility), Olivia Markin (2B / P), Faith Mejer (P / SS), Lexis Owens (SS / P) Season Opener: At Bremen March 29, 5 p.m.