COLUMBIA — The Hickman softball team lost five seniors from last year's team, including its star pitcher, Taylor Cowan. That void is what set up this year’s unusual team chemistry, according to senior catcher Katherine Steponovich.
This year, the starting lineup is composed of three seniors, four sophomores and two freshmen.
"The seniors last year were really good and big leaders, but this year is different for us,” senior pitcher Amy Johanning said.
This year, class or age isn't important, according to senior shortstop Taylor Anliker.
“There’s really no seniority,” Anliker said. “We are all equal, and we get along better this way. There aren’t the stereotypical seniors being mean to the freshmen. We love our freshmen.”
This mentality has translated into better unity on the diamond.
“Because of our good relationships with each other, we have more support on the field,” Anliker said. “We can pick them up if they have an error, but they can pick us up too. It works both ways.”
Freshman center fielder Sydney Washington said she has found this helpful.
"It's not about age," Washington said. "We act like we are all the same and we all play the same. It's a cool environment to be around."
Hickman coach Courtney Haskell said she has noticed the team's bond.
“These girls have already found the relationship that a team needs,” Haskell said. “It happened really quick. They get along very well, and they all respect each other, which is huge. Many teams can’t find that until mid-season or later.”
The youth of the team has also meant much different expectations for the season, according to Haskell.
“You can’t replace the pitching or the offense we had last year," Haskell said. "It doesn’t work that way. But it’s different, and that’s the fun of it. If it were the same, it wouldn’t be any fun.”
Haskell expects the girls to only get better throughout the season.
“The possibilities are endless really,” Haskell said. “They haven’t figured out how good they can be.”
After winning four of five games this past weekend and placing third in the Troy Buchanan Tournament, the team has started with a 5-1 record. The girls look to build on that 5 p.m. today when they face Southern Boone at Antimi Field at Cosmopolitan Park.