Douglas High School first team shortstop and second baseman Katie Kluever is one of the newcomers on the 2014 Western Nevada College Wildcats softball team.
Western Nevada College Softball Coach Leah Wentworth is seeing both depth and versatility in her 2014 recruiting class. Among the 11 players who have signed letters of intent, seven can play multiple positions. And for the second straight season, Wentworth will welcome seven players with ties to Nevada.
Wentworth expects Kluever to put some pressure on holdover players for playing time.
“She has about the same speed as Jenny (Rechel),” Wentworth said. “We’re hoping she can have the same level of impact.”
Other newcomers include Churchill County High School’s Kaysee Archer, Damonte Ranch High School’s Makenzie Hospodka and Meghan Hospodka, Elko High School’s Alyssa Stephens, Silver Stage High School’s Shannon Chapman and Spanish Springs High School’s Kindra Ryals.
Complementing the local talent will be transfer Katelyn Bomar, a center fielder from Central Arizona College; pitcher Katilyn Covione of Concord, Calif.; pitcher/catcher Kylie Everill of Cottonwood Heights, Utah; and pitcher Rylee Coggins of Sandy, Utah.
“It’s a versatile group,” Wentworth said. “Some of the girls have power, some will give us speed on the bases; others will provide contact at the plate. We’ll have some speed on the bench that can come in to pinch-run for us, and some pinch-hitting versatility.”
After finishing the 2013 season with 11 healthy players, Wentworth is excited about the competition and depth the recruits will create — at least two players deep at every position. “It’s a good problem to have,” she said.
The Wildcats welcome back seven starters, including record-setting catcher Sydney Darby, pitcher Carlee Beck, second baseman Madison Gonzalez, outfielder Andrea Lee, shortstop Jennifer Rechel, third baseman Heather Septon, and designated hitter Caroline McCarthy.
However, sophomore Alisha Nielsen plans an 18-month hiatus for a religious mission and McCarthy is recovering from a fracture and torn tendons to her elbow.
Outfielder Cassie Bell will return after missing last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The redshirt freshman is expected to stabilize the outfield and provide slap hitting from the left side of the plate.
Carlie Callahan, a member of Wentworth’s 2012 recruiting class, has rejoined the team as well, and Wentworth said she has five additional scholarships to consider.
The Division I Sierra League first-team infielder helped guide Douglas to a 23-12 record this past season. Kluever hit .385 and struck out only eight times in 104 at-bats. She executed three sacrifice bunts, stole seven bases and delivered nine extra-base hits. Her grand slam was the difference in Douglas’ come-from-behind regional semifinal victory over Damonte Ranch.
Returning much of her 2013 team, when the Wildcats posted their first regional tournament victory, Wentworth believes there are many reasons for optimism.
“The light bulb came on for this club at the regional tournament (this spring). They learned that they can compete and beat any of these teams if they play hard,” Wentworth said. “They are going to be a force to be reckoned with, and I really believe my team believes it.”