Ending with a 14-12 record a year ago, including a third place Mid-Illini Conference finish at 8-6, the Canton High Lady Giant softball team is set to dive into the 2019 season.

Ending with a 14-12 record a year ago, including a third place Mid-Illini Conference finish at 8-6, the Canton High Lady Giant softball team is set to dive into the 2019 season.


Thirteen returnees that were on the varsity roster a year ago are back for CHS in 2019.


In the circle, junior Blair Jacobus posted a 10-6 record last year. According to Canton veteran head coach Bob Barnes, Jacobus has gotten a lot stronger in the off-season and has been throwing around 60 mph during practices.


“I look for her to have a big year pitching for us,” said Barnes.


Jacobus will also be counted on at the plate after hitting .341 last spring.


Sophomore Ellyn Petty was 2-2 last year and according to Barnes has been working hard on her pitching.


“She (and Jacobus) will give us that nice one-two punch once the season gets going,” said Barnes.


Like Jacobus though, Petty is also a threat at the plate after batting .364 last year as a freshman.


Early on, junior Katie Waughtel and sophomore Ruby Davis are battling for the catching position.


“I think whoever can step up with the arm and defensive skills will get the nod at this spot,” said Barnes.


At first base, senior Alex Chamberlin, a Monmouth College signee, returns after hitting .246 last year.


“We are looking for more consistency at the plate with Alex this year,” said Barnes. “She has put in a lot of extra time trying to improve her offensive game.”


Two-year starter in senior Sophie Oaks is back at second base after hitting .250 last year.


“She is also trying to improve her offensive game and has been working hard to better last year’s stats,” Barnes said.


At third base, freshman newcomer Ellie Downing is the current front runner. Barnes noted that her glove, quick release and her skills at the plate make her a nice fit for the team.


Another two-year starter in junior Tori Oaks is back at shortstop. After batting .409 as a sophomore, Barnes is looking for the junior to bat in the No. 4 spot in the  lineup.


“Her arm has been the most improved on the team,” said Barnes.


In the outfield, sophomore Faith Demler returns to to left. Battling illness early in the year, Barnes noted that Demler proved to be a solid lead-off hitter, finishing the season with a .431 batting average.


In centerfield, junior Karlie Walker, who Barnes believes has the potential to be one of the top players in the conference is back following a sophomore season that saw her hit .333 with a team-leading four home runs and 18 RBIs.


“Great arm, great range and a dangerous bat,” said Barnes of Walker. “I am looking forward to see what she does for us her junior year.”


In right field, junior Allison Mortland has the early lead to seeing playing time. “Her strength at the plate has been her biggest improvement thus far,” said Barnes.


Mortland saw limited time last year filling in for Demler. She recorded a .286 average.


Other returnees include junior 2B/utility player Hannah Zimmerman who Barnes said was “One of the hardest workers in the program.”


In addition to possible seeing time at second base and the outfield, Zimmerman is also the second-fastest player on the team with good aggressive base running skills.


Barnes said that there are also a number of underclassmen that will be used from time to time and looking to break into a varsity lineup.


“The entire program is very strong and there is a lot competition at all positions,” he said.


The non-conference schedule for the Lady Giants will include will Peoria Notre Dame; Lincoln out of Wisconsin; the Margie Wright Classic facing Normal University High; the Rockridge Tournament and a first time trip to Rochester.


Then of course, comes competition in the Mid-Illini Conference.


“Of course (the Mid-Illini) is very balanced and tough again,” said Barnes. “But you always give the nod to Washington until someone knocks them off. But from top to bottom I really see nobody running the table with no conference losses. It makes for a fun year.”


Though the seasons may change, the goals and expectations for the Lady Giants do not.


“Our goals are always a conference and regional championship,” said Barnes. “As good as our conference is, to win it you have to play really solid softball.”


So what will the Lady Giants need to achieve in the hopes of achieving those goals?


“Our keys this year will be solid defensive effort each time out and make things happen offensively,” Barnes said.


Assisting Barnes on the varsity level will be Kelly Murphy, Larry Warden and Dave Demler. Coaching the CHS JV squad will be Harold Rose, Anna Bundy, Josh Bundy, Lori Wages and Mariah Hedges.