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First-year coach Bamonte excited for new season

MORRIS – The Morris softball team has a new head coach this season. And, while the new boss may not be the same as the old boss, there probably won’t be much for the Lady Redskin players to adjust to.

First-year head coach Jen Bamonte takes over the reins from Jen Lowery after serving as an assistant in the program for eight years.

“I’m excited to take it over,” Bamonte said. “I’ve been part of the program since I have been here, so it’s pretty familiar.”

Morris finished 25-8 last season, losing to Providence Catholic in the
Class 3A Morris Regional championship game. For the first time in four years, however, the Lady Redskins will enter a season without Abby Burns on the mound. Burns has graduated and is now pitching for University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

But the cupboard won’t be entirely bare for Bamonte in her initial season, as Gigi Corban returns to take over the main pitching duties. Also seeing time on the mound this year will be Ashley Phelps, who will also play first and be the anchor in the middle of the lineup. Corban went 8-0 and had one save last season while posting an ERA of 0.80.

In 52 innings, she struck out 57 and walked 17 while allowing just 36 hits. She also hit .289 with three doubles, a triple and a home run. Phelps, meanwhile, hit .416 with 16 doubles, four homers, 36 RBIs and 29 runs scored while being named third-team all-state.

“With Gigi and Ashley, we have some strong senior leadership,” Bamonte said. “Gigi is ready to take the reins on the mound. It’s nice to have a pitcher like her that we can rely on.

“Ashley is a force in the middle of the lineup and will return to the mound again this year, too.”

Other players returning from last season will be catcher Rachel Trader, outfielder Bayli Doss, infielder/outfielder Olivia Schultz, outfielder Abbey Moore, and outfielder Claire Gugerty. Senior Ashley Hood will join the team after taking two seasons off, while other newcomers will include freshman Kennedy Dransfeldt, and juniors Angel Clower, Clare Collard, Carli Foddrill, Megan Gerischer and Samantha Macchietto.

“Kennedy Dransfeldt brings a lot of talent,” Bamonte said. “She’s only a freshman, but she can play either shortstop or second base, and she’s a lefty leadoff hitter. She can either hit the ball out of the park, or she can slap or lay down a bunt and beat it out. She’s going to be an exciting player.”

The Lady Redskins will take a trip to Jacksonville this weekend, and they will bring along a few freshmen and sophomores to see how they adapt to varsity play.

Besides Burns, the Lady Redskins lost senior starters Janelle Brehm, Melissa Benson, Ryan Friend and Jasmine Cook from last year’s team. But don’t tell them that this will be a down year.

“We feel pretty good about this year,” Bamonte said. “We know we could have some doubters after what we lost from last year’s team, but these girls are up for the challenge. Our motto this year is #ProveThemWrong.

“We hope the girls will take others’ doubts and feed off that. They want to prove anyone who says we won’t be very good wrong.”

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