Katie Rupp takes over the softball program at East Clinton in 2021.
Last year, Rupp was varsity assistant coach and Sarah Sodini was head coach. The two have switched roles this year. Matt Melnek will be the reserve coach.
East Clinton 8-14 in 2019 under Matthew Zimmerman. They were 2-10 in the SBAAC National Division.
The top returning players are Lanie Clark, Jericka Boggs and Savannah Tolle. Rupp said Clark “has been teaching newcomers correct hitting form” and injured returnee Josie Runk “has been a voice at practices, encouraging and cheering on her teammates.”
Rupp said her expectations are high for the Astros this season.
“We have a big senior class this year, so even though we didn’t have our season last year, we still have a lot of softball experience,” she said. “There is a lot of young talent as well and I have already seen underclassmen stepping up to fill key positions in the field.”
Newcomers who should contribute are Megan Hadley, Cheyenne Reed and Ashlyn Tate. The freshmen “bring a lot of young talent in key positions” to the team, Rupp said.
Players gone from the 2019 team include Rhylee Luttrell, Taylor Boeckmann (first team All-SBAAC), MacKenzie Campbell, Kaitlin Durbin (second team All-SBAAC), Katelyn Talbott and McKenzie Pence. Campbell was the team’s top pitcher in 2019.
“Pitching is a game-changer in softball and I’ve had several girls step up and put in the work to fill this role,” said Rupp. “I’m excited about this team. There are a lot of players who are willing to take on new positions and learn new skills for the good of the team. So many of these girls play volleyball and basketball together as well so we have a strong foundation of trust and cooperation already.”
Looking back on 2020, Rupp said the team was crushed when it was told the 2020 season would be cancelled.
”We were at practice when the news was passed down,” she said. “It was devastating to tell the girls we wouldn’t be able to be together as a team for the 2020 season. It was tough losing such an experienced coach like Matthew Zimmerman. We were putting in a lot of work to fill some gaps just to have it taken away. It was especially difficult because it seemed we had just hit the point where we were coming together as a team and then we weren’t a team anymore.”