Central’s softball program has had three head coaches in three years. First year head coach Wes Seidel’s goal coming in is to establish some stability. Seidel had been around the softball program for a long time as the JV head coach and varsity assistant. He now has the opportunity to be the leader of the program for a Panthers looking to build on a 12-12 record from a season ago.
“I’m super excited and I think it’s going to be an amazing opportunity and I got some coaches with me who are also excited about coming into the program and building something that we can continue to grow,” Seidel said.
The excitement of building a new culture also comes with the hurdles of bringing in new people. With just fiver players returning this season, the Panthers will have to fill out the rest of the roster with underclassmen who will see their first varsity action.
“We’re really young,” said Seidel. “We have three seniors and our sophomore pitcher who was a freshman starter last year. Then we’re going to put five freshmen on our varsity team this year. We’re excited about where we’re headed. There’s going to be some bumps in the road and some growing pains probably along the way. But the kids that we put on our roster are really excited. They’re talented, they’re eager to be part of our program, which is really exciting for me as a coach.”
Returning players Kendall Seidel, Lillian McCormick, Brielle Lowry, Kailey Hempel, and Cassandra Ainsworth will be vital in helping the team achieve its goals this season and be instrumental in providing leadership for the new players.
“Our goal this season is to get better every day,” said Seidel. “And to build a program that these freshmen in two or three years can be really proud of. We lost a lot after last year. We had four starting varsity players not return to the program or transferred to other schools. So we have some pretty big holes to fill. So we’ve got some work to do. But really our goals are to build a culture that kids want to move from our youth programs to our high school programs.”
The Panthers hit the ground running with two games on the road. They’re at La Salle Prep on March 14 (with the results to be determined after the IO’s press time) then travel to Glencoe on March 16 with first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m.
“I’m really excited to see what we’re going to do,” said Seidel. “I’m ready to kind of get out on the dirt, hit the ball around, see how the kids respond to some adversity. See which of the newcomers are ready to really step up and be contributors. I think we’re going to see some significant growth as the season goes on and I’m really excited for this group to get out on the field and see how everything comes together.”
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