GCMS softball to start 2019 season with new coach

GIBSON CITY -- Though she is in just her first year as head coach, Kara Smith has an idea of the potential of the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley softball team.
Smith, who was a volunteer coach for GCMS last year after playing for Illinois State University's softball team from 2012-2015, held a team meeting prior to its scheduled start to the 2019 season.
"I told the girls I have really high expectations for them, and they have the potential and talent to go very far and deep into the postseason," Smith said.
The Falcons lost Hailey Rutledge, who ended her senior season with a .393 batting average, a home run, 10 RBIs, 16 runs scored and seven stolen bases last year.
"We did lose a lot, but the girls are looking really good and better than ever," Smith said. "We're ready to tackle this season."
Madi Eberle, a junior who has already verbally committed to Southern Illinois University, had 302 strikeouts and a 1.62 ERA on the mound last season, while hitting .462 with five home runs at the plate.
"That's a great thing to have," Smith said.
Eberle pitched over 95 percent of the Falcons' innings last season. Smith said this year, she is hoping junior Lauren Leonard -- who had four strikeouts and a 1.82 ERA through 7 2/3 innings last year -- and freshman Peyton Leonard can carry some of the load on the mound this year.
"We can't just rely on (Eberle's) arm this year," Smith said. "We're going to have to rely on both of the Leonard sisters to come in and, hopefully, help relieve her arm, and we're going to have to produce at the plate as well."
This year's GCMS squad has three seniors, all of whom are utility players.
"Megan Moody can play both infield and outfield, so she knows how to do everything, and with both of that, she can lead vocally and by example, especially with the underclassmen coming in," Smith said.
Makenzi Bielfeldt hit .297 last season with 11 RBIs. 
"She is a very vocal person," Smith said.
Dani Eckerty hit .219 last season with 10 RBIs. 
"She can help take charge out there in the outfield and tell other players where to go in situational stuff," Smith said.
Due to weather, GCMS had to cancel its first four games. 
"Obviously, this week hasn't been the best week to have games," Smith said.
One of the canceled games was a March 12 home contest against Bloomington Central Catholic, which reached the IHSA Class 2A sectional round last year for the third straight season.
"We were kind of looking forward to seeing how they were, especially since they're in our sub-sectional," Smith said.
The Falcons are scheduled to host St. Joseph-Ogden, which played in the 2A super-sectionals, on Monday, before hosting Watseka on Wednesday and Tuscola, which won a 2A regional championship as well, on Friday.
Last year, GCMS lost 10-0 and 1-0 to SJ-O and Tuscola, respectively.
"We're looking to hopefully get redemption on them and just fire away," Smith said. "I'm eager to get out on the dirt and see how we are this year. It stinks being inside all the time. You can only do so much."
The softball field at GCMS High School got an upgrade via a new scoreboard built in the honor of Roy Roemer, a GCMS superfan who died in the fall of 2017 and who left a donation of $136,000 to the school district that was announced last July.
"I wasn't really around when Roy was here, but from all the stories and everything I've heard, he is such a great guy," Smith said. "I don't think they could have picked a better person for it to be named after."
Categories (3):Prep Sports, Softball, Sports


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