Dutch Fork softball to lean heavily on returners in 2014
By David Shelton
Irmo – Dutch Fork softball coach Laurie Epps has a handful of returning starters this spring and the coach will rely heavily on that experience to again contend for a region championship.
Dutch Fork finished 20-10 a season ago and should battle with North Augusta for the region 5-AAAA title this season. Epps likes her team’s chances of competing with the top programs in AAAA.
“Our defense and pitching should be strong this season and should keep us in every game,” says Epps, who has a 72-58 record at Dutch Fork. “Our bats will determine our success and how far we can go this season.”
Anchoring this year’s squad is senior pitcher Hayley Elkins, the reigning region player of the year and an all-state selection. Elkins has signed with Charleston Southern University and will lead Dutch Fork as a hitter and a pitcher this season. Elkins hit .475 as a junior.
“I look for Hayley to have another great season and really stand out as one of the top players in the state this year,” Epps said.
Another key returner this spring is junior shortstop Lindsey Mason, who has great speed and defensive range in the middle. Mason hit .421 last season. Senior Cassidy Piccirillo also returns on the left side as the starter at third base.
Freshman Jenna Elkins is behind the dish at catcher as she handles the tosses of her older sister. Junior Bay Eleazar will see time behind the plate as well.
Eighth-grader Meghan Murphy is a talented young player and will handle duties at second base.
Sophomore Carson Hatcher and freshman Sydney Moss will see time in the infield as well. Hatcher also will spend time in the circle as Elkins’ backup.
The top returning starter in the outfield is junior centerfielder Madi Brown. Brown’s speed, range and arm have earned her an offer from College of Charleston.
Juniors Jennifer Shearouse and Maya Shami will contend for playing time in the outfield, along with junior leftfielder Sarah Hofferth.
Sophomore Tiffany Leslie is in the rotation as an outfielder as well while sophomore Sydney Bauchman will see action around the infield.