Shepard Softball Aims At Another Deep Run in the Playoffs.

Jourdan Jackson, Staff Reporter

Going into the softball season, expectations were very high for the Astros. They return seven starters from last year’s regional championship team that finished 21-8.

The injury to Bridget McDermott was bump in the road for the Astros, but they have weathered the storm as she was cleared to play yesterday. She has been out since April 1.

The University of St. Francis commit has been one of the outstanding players in Shepard history. The all area pitcher is recognized as one of the areas top 25 players. She was 13-6 last season with 140 strikeouts.  

McDermott returned to the lineup in left field and the Astros defeated Evergreen Park. They are now 13- 7 overall and 7-4 in the South Suburban Conference.    

  In her absence two freshmen have done a majority of the pitching. Kelly Greene and Taylor Becker have grown up quickly.

“The two freshmen have done a great job in my absence,” said McDermott. “They have really stepped up and have done a great job pitching against girls who are older than them. Both are going to be amazing by the time they are seniors.”

The return of McDermott should help, but the team was dealt another blow when sophomore second baseman Brooke Becker went down with a thumb injury.

The Lady Astros are looking to to make a deep run through the playoffs.

Seniors shortstop  Katie Justin, catcher  Becca Harkala and outfielder Syndney  Emerson have provided leadership.

Juniors Jenna Samad at third and Elison McGovern have been steady.

The Astros have four freshmen on the varsity squad.  

We have a freshman class that is going to leave their mark on Shepard and an arsenal of pitchers,” said head coach Kelsey Clifford, “Coaches are looking forward to seeing how creative and flexible we can get with our line up.”

Coach is particularly excited about what Kelly Green brings to the table.

“Her athleticism provides the Astros multiple defensive lineups,” said Clifford, “We expect her to take some of the pressure off of Bridget on the mound and be a leader in the outfield.”

“Freshmen Taylor Becker, Emma Reilly and Abby Horton also brings us speed and they can chase anything down in the outfield,” said Clifford.

Coach Clifford is excited with the mix of veteran players with newcomers.

“This is a special group that can take us to the next level of competition,” said Clifford. “With four freshmen and four seniors, we have a great amount of depth, leadership and grit.”

She also likes what junior Ella Aleman brings to the table. “Aleman adds more dimension with the ability to play corners and head to the circle,” said Clifford. “The ball travels at high rates off her bat and we are excited to see her hard off-season work pay off.

Another junior Juy Levine has also played a role in the team’s success.

“Judi Levine has definitely excelled, said McDermott. “She came to the team without a starting spot and she has worked her way up take over for Brooke at second base. She is without a doubt the hardest working player. She is a huge voice in our crazy dugout as well.”

The Astros seem to be heating  up at the right time and the Astros should be very solid going forward.

“This season is about remaining focused and consistent and continuing  to improve throughout the rest of the regular season and the playoffs,” said Clifford.