By Brodee Gillam
42-15-1 overall record. 28-4 in the MCCAA West. MCCAA Western Conference Champions.
MCCAA State Champions. NJCAA District I Champions. A seventh-place finish in the NJCAA Division II Softball World Series.
LCC's softball Stars checked all of those boxes last season. Heading into 2018 with only four sophomores lost from that squad, fans of LCC should be expecting much of the same success this year.
Stars Head Coach Marc Kibby, who won the 2017 MCCAA Coach of the Year among other awards last season, said he is confident in his team because of how much star power LCC has on the mound.
"With our pitching staff, that is one of our strong points," said Kibby, who is entering his seventh season. "I think we have the best pitching staff I have had here at LCC. We're going basically four deep with (starting) pitching … I basically have four number one pitchers right now.."
Kibby named five sophomores who he thinks need to play well for LCC to flourish this season: pitcher Taylor VanZytveld, pitcher Connor Proctor, second basemen Hannah Horvath, outfielder Brooklyn Dolloff and outfielder Ashley Cross.
Of the five sophomores mentioned, one that is critical to the success of LCC is Proctor. After winning 22 games last year, Proctor is poised to be the ace of aces for the pitching staff.
Proctor said the sophomores have to face the adversity head on and lead by example in critical positions.
"I expect the group of sophomores to take charge as leaders once games come around and step up in situations (where) we need someone to produce," Proctor said. "I think we are going to come out with a fire every game."
As pivotal as the returning sophomores are, Kibby expects just as much out of his freshmen and transfer student-athletes. A few of those players Kibby mentioned include transfer sophomore pitcher Gabby Hoaglund, freshman third baseman Rebecca Curtis and freshman catcher/DH Sara Reinhardt.
According to Kibby, Reinhardt is a great leadoff hitter for the Stars and Curtis is a ball hawk at third base.
Hoaglund said she was thrilled heading into the stretch of spring break games, and said the experience should improve the Stars tremendously.
"We are excited to see how well we can compete against the strong teams we have on our schedule in Florida," Hoaglund said. "As a team we have put in a lot of hours indoors this winter, so getting outside is exciting in itself, and then we get to go play some very competitive teams.
"It's exciting that we can see everything that we have been working on, (come) together and see how well we (do) against these good teams to better prepare us when we come back and play (in the conference)."
The team began action in Florida on March 3. The first scheduled home game is Saturday, March 24; a doubleheader against Muskegon Community College. The action starts at 1 p.m. at Ranney Park, near the Frandor Shopping Center.