By: Sam Ojeda / Sports Editor
The Hutchinson Community College softball team is off and running in its 2023 campaign.
Last season, head coach Jaime Rose and her team finished 41-8 and 29-3 in conference play. Those 41 wins were the second most in school history.
At one point they were ranked 15th in the NJCAA rankings. This is the first time they had been in the rankings since 1987.
The expectations are extremely high for the Blue Dragons. They are predicted to finish second in the KJCCC West, as well as opening the season ranked 17th in the NJCAA Division 1 national ranking.
Most of Rose’s team returns from last year. Star sophomore pitcher Riley Wertz from Wichita returns after a great freshman campaign. Lefty Emily Munson, from Omaha, Nebraska, returns to lead the starting pitchers as well as Kierstan Weitze and Morgan Pennycuff, who were large producers last season.
Third-year Madison Grimes returns to lead an offensive powerhouse for the HutchCC. The Andale shortstop is coming off a productive season where she hit .370 with five home runs. Last season’s second baseman, first baseman, and catcher all return this season as well.
They started off the season the best they could by taking both games from Ottawa JV. The Blue Dragons won the first game 14-5 and won the second by run-rule 13-4. In two weeks, they travel down through Texas and Oklahoma for a series of games that will test them. March 4th are the games to keep on the radar. The Butler Grizzlies, who are the only team in the conference to be ranked above the HutchCC, come to town for two games at Fun Valley.