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The pitching staff and outfield must be rebuilt, but the Whitnall softball team looks to be a contender in the Woodland Conference again this season.

The Falcons return a powerful offensive core led by junior catcher Mackenzie Sutton, who hit .610 with seven home runs and 48 runs batted in last season to earn first-team all-Woodland Conference East Division honors and honorable-mention all-district accolades.

Other first-team all-division returnees are sophomore infielder Haley Wynn (.455, 33 runs scored and 17 stolen bases), senior infielder Nadalia Haita (.397 and 24 RBIs) and junior outfielder Kathryn Bay (.382 with 14 RBIs).

Another veteran who earned all-division honorable mention is senior infielder Emily LaMonte (.461 with 31 RBIs).

In addition, senior Sierra Grubor returns to softball after taking last season off to focus on basketball. Grubor, who was first-team all-division in softball as a sophomore, is expected to solidify the infield both offensively and defensively.

The question marks are the pitching staff, because coach Tom Hickman must find replacements for graduated aces Sarah Bauer and Alex Cimler, and the outfield, which is also new.

The Falcons showed their offensive capabilities in their season opener, a 14-5 romp over Franklin on April 7.

They collected 12 hits, led by a 3-for-4 effort from Wynn and two hits apiece from freshman Abby Cunningham and Sutton. Grubor belted a home run and drove in three runs and Sutton and LaMonte each brought in two runs.

The Falcons also showed some speed, racking up nine steals, paced by Alyssa Trensch and LaMonte with three apiece.

The pitching duties were split between senior Lara Stachowski (6 innings pitched, 4 hits and no earned runs) and Trensch (1 inning, 3 hits).

Whitnall visits always-formidable New Berlin Eisenhower at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 13.

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