ROCHELLE — It may be a bit chilly outside, but that didn't stop the Lady Hubs softball team from getting in a long practice session at Rochelle Township High School Tuesday afternoon.
After compiling just a 3-25 record last season, the team is ready to take a big step forward under head coach Lindsay Suess, who is beginning her first year as the leader of the softball program after former head coach Denver Davis resigned from his post last year.
“We’re excited,” Suess said. “We have some really good numbers and we have some really good talent… I think we bring a lot of energy and knowledge since a lot of us coaches played in high school and college. We have that experience, and from an age standpoint I bring some pitching knowledge.”
The Lady Hubs are returning a handful of girls from last year’s roster including senior Jenna Feltes, a four-year varsity player who will headline the Rochelle starting rotation this season.
“I think we’re going to be a lot better this year,” Feltes said. “We’ve all been coming to practice and working hard so we’re hoping it’s going to be a better season than last year. We’ve been hitting more this year than we ever have and that’s something we’ve struggled with in the past.”
Quickness on the bases will be one key area to watch for this season, and Suess also said her team’s effort is another strength that can propel the group forward. Juniors Faith Roush and Britney Salinas are two more returning players who are projected to anchor the Rochelle defense.
“I think our goals are just to improve every game,” Suess said. “Whether that’s minimizing our losses or just working on smaller goals… I think if they work really hard we can be a solid team that makes some other teams scared to play us.”
The Lady Hubs suffered a tough loss to the Dixon Duchesses in the IHSA Class 3A Regional Quarterfinals last season by a score of 2-1, but the girls are seeking greater heights this time around. For Feltes, she said she’d like to see the team push beyond the semifinal round of the regional bracket.
“I’m hoping we can win at least the second game of regionals because we haven’t made it past that point in any of my years of being here,” she said.
Pending the weather, the girls will play their first game of the season next Wednesday, March 22 at Belvidere North. The girls’ home opener is scheduled for Saturday, March 25 against the Freeport Pretzels.