Senior-heavy Rebels have high aspirations

The Champlin Park softball team posted a double-digit win season in 2016, and it feels it can be even better this season.

Champlin Park pitcher Taylor Sloat is one of the Rebels’ nine seniors on this year’s squad. (Sun Post file photo by Chris Chesky)
Champlin Park pitcher Taylor Sloat is one of the Rebels’ nine seniors on this year’s squad. (Sun Post file photo by Chris Chesky)

After losing just three seniors from last year, the Rebels’ core of strong players is set to return. Through the first few weeks of practice, Woodley said his squad has been able to do things right away that it took the team a while to do in years past.

“So far, so good,” Woodley said. “We have a lot of kids returning, so we’re further ahead than we normally would be.

“We’re looking OK, it’s hard to tell because once you get outside, things change. We have had a couple scrimmages and so far we look good.”

“There are a lot of situational things we can go and take a look at that usually takes a couple of weeks for people to knock the rust off,” Woodley added. “This year we were able to jump in and start where we left off last year and it has been good.”

The Rebels’ nine seniors (Randi Rogers, Vada Stoddard, Maegan Shuck, Riley Husom, Stacy Smith, Taylor Sloat, Laura Kloeppner, Brittney Davis, and Jordan Johnson) have also gotten off to great starts both on and off the field.

“I think we have great leadership with all the seniors that we have,” Woodley said. “We have a great camaraderie, these girls have been playing together for a long time now.

“Offensively, defensively they support each other, so it should be a good year.”

Davis figures to lead the Rebels after posting a .537 batting average and driving in 22 runs last season.

“I think this will be her best year because she will be nice and relaxed,” Woodley said. “She knows where she’s going to college, she has everything situated and our sophomore, Holly Blaska, pushes her to be better because Holly is a great player.

“They challenge each other and that competition spreads from girl to girl.”

Also benefitting the Rebels has been the favorable weather conditions, as they were able to take the field for practices rather than practice inside.

“It has been nice to get going outside,” Woodley said. “We’ve been practicing outside for the last few weeks, and that’s nice to have before you play your first game.”

With all the positivity around the team, Woodley said his squad has set high goals for itself this season.

“With a senior-laden team like we have, the girls have high expectations,” Woodley said. “We want to make sure that we fulfill those.

“We don’t want to look back on the season with a ‘could have, should have’ mindset. We’re looking forward to it and it should be a good, competitive conference and we want to be at the top of it.”

The Rebels opened the season with a 4-0 loss to Maple Grove April 11, before defeating Coon Rapids 8-4 April 13.

The Rebels will play next against Armstrong at 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, at Armstrong High School.

Contact Chris Chesky at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris.