Veteran Central DeWitt squad ready to take next step

Members of the 2019 Central DeWitt softball team are (front, from left) Payton Preston, Katie Fox, Emily Swanson, Kenzie Rosenboom, Mya Cavanagh; (back) Drew Anderson, Ava Morris, Keeley Jansen, Hannah Palzkill, Talbot Kinney, Alyssa Eden, Morgan Machovec, Hannah VanderHeiden and Grace Pierce. Not pictured: Colleen Klostermann and Kathryn Grau.

The Central DeWitt softball team has already seen once what a year of experience can do.

All but one Sabers starter returned to last year’s squad and Central used that additional maturity and familiarity to increase its win total by seven victories.

Now, with their lineup largely intact again, the Sabers have lofty goals this summer.

Central has certainly gotten off to a good start, winning 15 of its first 19 games to enter the state rankings in Class 4A.

The Sabers boast seniors on both corners of the diamond.

On the left side, senior Kenzie Rosenboom returns for her fifth season at third base.

Rosenboom was an all-state selection as a junior after batting .477 with 52 hits, including 14 doubles, a triple and four home runs. The Saber drove in 39 runs and scored 28 more.

She has picked up right where she left off, collecting 16 more hits with six doubles, three home runs, and a team-high 16 RBIs.

Lining up behind Rosenboom in left field is senior Katie Fox.

Back for her third straight season at the position, Fox is having her best season yet at the plate, batting .476 with 20 hits and 12 runs.

On the other side of the diamond, senior Emily Swanson starts her fourth season at first base.

Swanson lost a large chunk of her junior campaign due to injury, but still had 15 hits – including two home runs – and has already surpassed that output in the young season, while batting .425.

Back for her third season in right field is senior Payton Preston.

Preston had 25 hits and 16 RBIs in her junior season and is on pace to surpass both totals this summer.

A fifth senior, Mya Cavanagh, again leads the Sabers’ pitching staff.

Cavanagh has over 500 innings of work to her name and is coming off a junior season in which she won 13 games, posted an ERA of 3.41 and struck out 86 batters.

She has lowered her ERA even more – to 1.58 – in the early season and already has 50 strikeouts.

At the plate, Cavanagh is hitting .409 and is second on the team with 18 hits – two of them doubles.

The Sabers can turn to a trio of underclassmen on the mound, too.

Freshmen Keeley Jansen has given the Sabers a lift in her first varsity action, posting a 3.00 ERA and striking out more than 20 batters. 

Fellow freshman Hannah VanderHeiden threw a perfect game in her first start at a weekend tournament and pitched 87 innings last season with four wins and 31 strikeouts, while sophomore Kathryn Grau has already appeared in more than 20 career games.

All of the Sabers’ pitchers will be aiming for the mitt of sophomore catcher Talbot Kinney.

Kinney had a breakout season at the plate during her freshman campaign, hitting .395 with 49 hits – including 11 doubles and three home runs – 24 RBIs and 18 runs.

Kinney has already mashed five home runs in the young season and is creeping up on last year’s RBI total.

Junior Alyssa Eden and Jansen have both seen time at second base, while freshman Hannah Palzkill has handled things at shortstop.

Eden piled up 26 hits a season ago with 10 doubles and 18 runs scored. 

Jansen has 15 hits in her first 33 at-bats – a .455 batting average – and has scored seven runs.

Palzkill has 16 hits of her own and displays plenty of power, already slugging five doubles, two triples, and two home runs (she had two homers last year, too).

Sophomore Morgan Machovec completes a veteran Sabers outfield as she returns for her third season in center field.

Seeing more time at the plate, Machovec has 16 hits in the early season and is close to matching the 18 runs she scored last season.

Freshmen Ava Morris and Drew Anderson provide even more pop to the Sabers’ lineup – they combined for 32 hits, 26 runs, and 21 RBIs last summer – while sophomores Colleen Klostermann and Grace Pierce bring speed to the base paths (Klostermann has already scored 14 runs, Pierce, who will see time at second base as well, has added five).

The WaMaC East will again be one of the toughest softball leagues in the state.

There are seven teams in the division and five of them are ranked.

Along with the Sabers, who are 12th in Class 4A, Beckman Catholic is ranked 12th in Class 2A, Solon is fifth in Class 3A, Mount Vernon is ninth in 3A, and West Delaware is seventh in 4A.

Central has played just two divisional games so far, but got off to a good start, taking both games against Marion on Monday.