After coming off of a state championship run where the Orioles finished as runners-up in 2011, Avon followed that with high expectations. However, Marion County champion Perry Meridian bounced them from the postseason last year.
It was a hard loss for the talented Orioles who finished 19-4 and as Hoosier Crossroads Conference champions for the first time in school history.
“I think we were very disappointed in last year’s loss,” Avon coach Jenny Shayotovich said. “I hope it motivated our upper classmen and we will respond.”
Avon will have to do so without two of its top players from last season in pitcher Haleigh Chasteen, offensive and defensive powerhouse Alli Bexell, and others who played significant roles. According to Shayotovich, it’s about reloading and not rebuilding for the Orioles and it starts with the upperclassmen but does not end there.
“I think we have players who are in a position and have the ability to step up and continue the Avon softball tradition,” she said. “Our senior leadership and talent will work to fill the voids left by the talent that graduated. They’re a tremendous group of girls who want to lead by example and have earned respect rather than demanded it.
“Some younger players will have to step up and show that they are ready to continue the Oriole way and have an impact on our success.”
Where the Orioles are weakest is in the outfield, but they have a host of players up to the challenge of compensating during the transition of breaking in new players.
Senior Lizzy Snodgrass will assume pitching duties for Avon, along with junior Alex Anderson backing her up. Mac Johnston and Olivia O’Brien take on catching responsibilities for the pair of pitchers.
Shayotovich pointed to seniors Sadie Foster and Taylar Kelso to lead and “display to our team what hard-nosed softball players look like each day in practice.”