Head coach: Jason Stewart, ninth season
2013: 18-12 overall, 3-4 Hoosier Heritage Conference. Lost 7-1 to Pendleton Heights in 4A Sectional 9 championship game.
Last sectional title: 2010
Key losses: Hancock County Co-Player of the Year P Ashley Whitaker (.559/10 HR/13-6/2.24 ERA/155 K), All-County Honorable Mention SS/3B Alyssa Walls (.365/27 RBI) and 3B Brittany Wasson (.315).
Outlook: G-C, without a senior, is among the youngest programs in the state. Of the 29 kids on the G-C roster, 27 are freshmen or sophomores. … Among the incoming ninth-graders are P/1B Makayla Durick, P/1B Michaela Ballman, LF Jessie Brunk, SS Codey Miller, 3B Morganne Denny and CF Casey McDaniel. …
Sophomore RF Makaela Gradowski and junior 3B Kelsey Jones are also new to the varsity roster. … Jones and 2B Briana Whitaker (.228) are the club’s lone juniors. … Sophomore ace P Darcie Huber rehabbed from December, 2012, arm surgery and was cleared to throw just prior to last season. Backing up Ashley Whitaker on the mound, Huber tossed 72.2 innings with a 2.89 ERA and 67 strikeouts. She also batted .349 in a team-high 106 at-bats. Huber is the Cougars’ top returning hitter. … Other returnees who saw extensive playing time last year include sophomores OF Deena Miller (.261/30 games) and sophomore C Erika Knapp (.203/23 G). … Sophomores UT Madeline Gibson, OF Calista Wheeler, C Averianna Roessner and 1B Katey Addison will also contribute.
Stewart says: “I knew we were going to be young. But it’s a good group. This freshmen class is probably the deepest class I’ve ever had. There are a lot of good solid players that can develop into pretty good players.”
“We’ll have four freshmen starting at any one time. Morganne Denny is going to hit fourth for us. We’re expecting big things out of her; a real big stick from the left side. Jessie Brunk, which is (G-C 2012 grad) Ashley’s littler sister. Codey Miller, very good defensively. And at first base we’ll have a platoon of Makayla Durick and Michaela Ballman, who will both pitch and throw some innings for us on varsity.”
“Obviously the older girls that we’re looking to lead are Brie Whitaker at second base, who is probably our best defensive player. And Darcie on the mound. She’s fully recovered from her surgery and we’re looking for a lot of big things from her.”
“I expect better than last year’s (18 wins). I really do. They’re not afraid. We went to our scrimmage the other day against New Pal. And starting that many young kids, you don’t know what you’re going to get. But, defensively we were literally flawless. Swung the bats well, only had four or five strikeouts. They came to play. You just didn’t see the fear in their eyes. These kids have played a lot of travel ball and I don’t think (nerves) are going to be a factor for them.”
“Yorktown (in the conference) returned everybody from a state runner-up team. Pendleton, with seven seniors and possibly the best pitcher in the conference with Bailey Benefiel. New Pal’s New Pal, they’re always going to be good. Mike (McGill) will have a good team at Mt. Vernon. And Shelbyville’s got the best class they’ve ever had come in. So, it’s not going to be easy. Our conference, as usual, is going to be brutal.”
Opening Day: The Cougars host Frankfort (1 p.m.) and Ft. Wayne Carroll (5 p.m.) today.