Van-Far varsity softball coach Kelly Orf is so dedicated to the cause of promoting Indians athletics, not only is she also the head coach of the girls varsity basketball team, but she's been working with the cheerleaders and serving as one of the few female assistant varsity baseball coaches in the area, as well.
Now that tightly-knit family-feeling she's worked so hard to create in all of her athletic efforts has taken a hit after last year when longtime Van-Far varsity baseball and assistant varsity softball coach Wes Rowden retired.
Complicating these matters even further are the losses the Lady Indians suffered to graduation, which included third baseman/pitcher Jayda Borgmeyer and second baseman Lexi DeTienne to graduation, creating a formula that is either going to thrive or wither in the light of all that's changed.
"Coach Rowden is extremely missed and impossible to replace, but the girls and I are really looking forward to this year," said Orf. "This year I think we will play really great as a team this year and we hit the ball extremely well during our summer leagues. We have been really working on our short game over the past few weeks at practice."
Last season this squad finished with a record of 11-6 overall according to maxpreps.com. The Lady Indians also had a .327 batting average, a .422 on-base percentage and a .913 fielding percentage with 35 steals and four homeruns.
"Our key returners are leftfielder Makayla McAfee, centerfielders Alivia Graddy and Alex Connaway and right fielder Carleigh Phillips," Orf said. "All-State shortstop Jordan Garner is also back, as are first baseman Reghan Case, All-Regional pitcher Jayle Jennings and catcher Gina Clausen. Mallory Williams sophomore was our DP last year and she'll be taking over third base. Morgan McDowell is back from having ACL surgery last year and she will be helping us fill a position on the varsity squad."
When it comes to the Eastern Missouri Conference, that field isn't an easy one to maneuver through. While Van-Far is going to have the advantage of knowing that Bowling Green also graduated some of its best players, that's an edge that is anything but exclusive. Fortunately for Orf, Jennings hit .400 last year with three doubles, a triple, one homerun, six RBI and seven runs scored.
Reghan Case also charted a .333 batting average a year ago, and if this duo keeps on improving like they did at the start of their prep career, the skies the limit as to how far they can take this team in 2017.
"The EMO conference is always competitive and we are looking forward to being able to compete with some really great teams," said Orf.