Given that most of the squad that advanced to the Class 5A state playoffs a year ago has returned, it’s not wild speculation that the Hunter softball team is on the rise.
But the members of the Wolverines are being careful not to get ahead of themselves.
For instance, junior pitcher Jorden Beutler has no difficulty rattling off four programs that make up a level Hunter only can hope to achieve.
"Copper Hills, Weber, Bingham, Riverton," Beutler said. "I think we could definitely make it into the top five, but I don’t know about those four."
Hunter nevertheless is looking to step up during the 2013 campaign after finishing eighth by going 2-2 in the double elimination format at the 2012 state tourney.
A big key for the Wolverines is pitching, and that’s where Beutler comes in. She started every game for Hunter as a sophomore, and her offseason regimen has been preparing her for more of the same.
"She’s been taking clinics all summer long. She’s got a great attitude," Hunter coach Wes Haymond said. "State depends on how your pitching holds up. If you can get a run or two and get some good defense, you’ll be in good shape."
"I haven’t even had any breaks at all," said Beutler, who has been working to add a rise, screwball and curve to her pitching repertoire. "I definitely think I’m getting better."
Beutler also is one of the better hitters for the Wolverines, who have one big stick returning in the hands of junior Tess Matagi. She batted .568 and socked nine home runs to earn an all-state selection.
For leadership, the Hunter contingent looks toward seniors in the middle infield. Corinne Cleverly was a second-team pick for all-state and guides the Wolverines from her shortstop position, while fellow senior McKinzie Cedarstrom is a four-year starter at second.
"They all know what’s involved now," Haymond said about his players’ state tournament experience from a year ago.
Haymond has been the Hunter softball coach for 13 years, and the best finish for his Wolverines was a fifth-place finish at state. He hopes his young core will be the one that helps his team crack into that next level.
"I would consider our freshman class the best I’ve seen in 13 years," he said.
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