New coach, same goals

By Will Johnson, Sports Editor
Posted 8/27/21

For the first time in over four decades there will be a new face inside the third-base coaches box on the softball field at Vienna City Park.

Following the retirement of long-time Vienna head …

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New coach, same goals

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For the first time in over four decades there will be a new face inside the third-base coaches box on the softball field at Vienna City Park.

Following the retirement of long-time Vienna head softball coach Mick Byrd, Chandler Harker was selected to take over the reigns of the program that won a Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) Class 1 State Championship last fall.

“Filling Coach Byrd’s shoes is definitely something that I’ve been questioned a lot about since I’ve taken the job,” Harker said. “Mick was a great coach and even though I didn’t coach under him, I still learned a lot from him.”

In some instances, it’s not always about the X’s and O’s in a sport.

“It’s not all about the X’s and O’s a lot of times in coaching that makes a team successful,” Harker said. “Building a good team chemistry and having kids respect you and want to play hard for you can go a long way.”

That chemistry will begin with three seniors who will be hungry to get the Eagles back to Springfield and the final four.

That trio includes Allison Buschmann, Kadence George and Jenna Wiles.

Juniors rounding out the list of upperclassmen for the Lady Eagles include Madeleine Novak, Abrea Simmons, Riley Rosentreter, Kiera Hollis, Andrea Novak, Olivia Hagan, Nora Garro and Terra Huffman.

Sophomores looking to push the upperclassmen for varsity time on the diamond include Karleigh Briscoe, Aliyah Griffin, Kayla Hertzing, Jaelee Stricklan, Cara Petershagen and Eva Hollis.

Freshmen getting their first taste of high school softball at VHS will include Jaedyn Schell, Ava Kloeppel, Madison Weeks, Aubrey Reeves, Salene George, Adelynn James and Marissa Hollis.

Six-time defending champions of the Gasconade Valley Conference (GVC) in softball, Harker’s Eagles are hungry to make it seven in a row in addition to another district title and a run to state.

“People say there’s only one way to go after winning a state championship and that is down,” Harker said. “I’m here to tell you these Vienna Lady Eagles are ready to make a statement and run it back this season.”

That quest for back-to-back state titles will begin Friday at the friendly confines of Vienna City Park where the Lady Eagles will host Stoutland’s Lady Tigers with a 5 p.m., first pitch for the opening game of the Chandler Harker era of Lady Eagle softball.

In addition to a new face in the third-base coaches box, there will also be a newcomer to the first-base coaches box following the retirement of Ellie Glick.

Replacing Glick will be first-year assistant coach Jessica Colliver.

Originally from Camdenton, Colliver also played softball during her days as a Lady Laker.

“My dream has always been to teach and coach,” Colliver said. “I am so grateful to Maries R-1 for giving me the opportunity to make that happen.”

Under her high school coach Kim Vest, Colliver was taught about enjoying the game, working hard and taking pride in your school.

“My goal is to do the same for these wonderful student-athletes I get to work this fall,” Colliver said. “Coming in the year after winning a state title tells me our student-athletes are hungry to make it back and willing to do the work.”

Vienna’s run of non-conference games will continue through early September with contests against Linn, St. James, Russellville, Salem, Dixon, Tuscumbia and Owensville.

Their quest for a seventh-consecutive GVC softball title will commence on Tuesday, Sept. 14 when they will host Cuba at 5 p.m., at Vienna City Park.

Two days later, round one of Maries County softball bragging rights will be decided at Belle City Park with the Lady Eagles and Tigers square off in the first of their two regular-season meetings with the latter being later in September.

Regular-season tournament action will see Vienna compete in the Richland Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 25 before turning around a week later and hosting their own tournament on Saturday, Oct. 2 at Vienna City Park.

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