After finishing third in the CWC-8 a season ago, the Shiocton Chiefs are looking to build upon a strong 2016 that ended in the regional final to eventual state champion Laconia.
The Chiefs finished 20-5 overall and this year many assume they will once again compete for the top spot in the conference. The team boasts a lot of pitching depth, including the return of first-team all-conference pitcher Sydney Wilcox, who plans to play at Upper Iowa University next year.
“Not only [Wilcox], but I think our depth is pretty decent,” said Shiocton head coach Dave Wilcox. “Gabby Gunderson, Allie Erickson who’s a sophomore, and the freshman, just the batting practice we did in the cage, I like the fact that they put the ball over the plate. Definitely Sydney is going to be the workhorse and be depended upon. If she answers the bell, that’ll give us our best opportunity, but it is nice just because of multiple games that we do have options.”
There will be positions, Wilcox says, where younger players will have to step in and fill a void. The team lost Hannah Guyette, a first-team selection last season, who won’t be easy to replace.
“With the year Hannah had, you’re not even going to try and replace that,” said Wilcox. “That’s a once in a coach’s career year. Just one of those things and I’m so glad it happened to a senior, not only hitting, but her defense was phenomenal.”
Coach Wilcox says the first opportunity to replace Guyette at shortstop will go to Tina Ubl, who Wilcox refers to as a “freak of an athlete.”
Elsewhere, with the senior class consisting of only Sydney Wilcox , younger players will have opportunities.
“I think we have four or five juniors, four sophomores, and five freshman,” Wilcox said of his roster. “I don’t know how much of a role the freshman will play. There will be some opportunity there, but just about every one of the juniors and sophomores will be counted on for key positions.”
The team has a good mix of experience and dependability returning to the infield, but the outfield may experience learning opportunities early on.
“We’re going to have a really young outfield this year because last year we maybe had Tina [Ubl] out there, or when Sydney [Wilcox] wasn’t pitching, she was at center. Trina Young is a returning junior who will stay at right field to start, but then center and left field are going to be new. There are going to be mistakes and there are going to be some miscues, but we’re trying to coach them up. We want them to be aggressive and we want them to go after the ball.”
Overall, Shiocton’s roster has the makings of another team that’s ready to make a run at conference this year and beyond.
“I like what we have,” Wilcox said of his team. “Even though we have one senior, we do have a pretty strong junior and sophomore class, so I think we’ll still be in the mix.”