By STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 1, 2018
2017 Far East Tournament finish — Fifth.
Coach — Tom Bell, second season.
Key performers — Tavia Huggins, So., SS-C; Aliyah Young-Williams, So., 2B; Lyjene Coy, Fr., 3B; Kennedie Westbrook, Fr., C; Harlee Littleton, Fr, UT; Justice Martinez, Fr. IF.
Outlook — Six seniors graduated and another starter transferred. All but one of 19 players are underclassmen, but 15 of them are not new to softball, having played club ball in the States or on Okinawa. Panthers failed to reach the D-I final for the first time last May.
2017 Far East Tournament finish — Tied for third.
Coach — Trevor Thibert, first season (assisted Stephanie Davis, who transferred after eight seasons as head coach)
Key performers — Madison Richardson, Sr., 3B-1B; Ceara King, Sr., OF; Olivia Witherow, Sr., P-1B; Celia Charles, Sr., LF; Alexis Oliver, Sr., 2B; Marcela Marquez, Sr., RF; Destiny Cornelius, Jr., UT-OF; McKayla Major, Jr., P-C; Jalyn Foster, So., UT-IF; Zoey Weidley, Fr., IF; Brooke Roberts, Fr, P-1B.
Outlook — Reloading-contending. As solid as the six returning seniors are, the Dragons have some up-and-coming freshmen who have played club ball on Okinawa or in the States. Even with four-year pitchers Reaven East and Leah Bebout graduated, the Dragons have some promising arms in Witherow, Major and Roberts. Thibert, the brother of former Edgren athletics director Andre Thibert, says he’s optimistic about the Dragons’ chances.
Nile C. Kinnick Red Devils
2017 Far East Tournament finish — Defending champion.
Coach — Katrina Kemper, eighth season.
Key performers — Mariah Wimberly, So., P-IF; Tori Osterbrink, So., P-C; Alianna Juarez, So., OF; Kim Nelson, Jr., 2B; Michaela Hall, Jr., SS; Cassie Boyer, So., IF; Sherry Signey, Sr., OF.
Outlook — Reloading-contending. Kemper returns after having taken most of last season off and finds a strong core of returners from last year’s DODEA-Japan and D-I championship team. Could challenge to become the Red Devils’ first back-to-back champions.
Seoul American Falcons
2017 Far East Tournament finish — Runner-up.
Coach — Ronda Gardner, first season (replaces 23-year coach Julian Harden).
Key performers — Krista Bradley, Sr., IF (two times All-Far East, D-I Gold Glove in 2016); Maria Bruch, Jr., IF-OF; Brenna Hanson, Sr., IF-OF.
Outlook — Rebuilding, and continuing to face drawdown problems as the transformation to Camp Humphreys continues. The Falcons must overcome the loss of their battery Kendall Winn and Faith Stehle, who each transferred to the States.
Coach — Joy Sims, second season.
Key performers — None provided.
Outlook — Rebuilding, though Sims says the team possesses plenty of potential.
E.J. King Cobras
Coach — McKinzy Best, seventh season.
Key performers — Sakura Boyd, Sr., C; Haru Bellwood, Sr., IF; Mika Poluhowich, Sr., 2B; Alexis Encinas, Sr., SS; Valerie Nepez, Sr., 3B; Yumika Randall, So., IF-OF; Isabella Caronan, So., IF-OF; Irene Eubanks, So., IF-OF.
Outlook — Reloading. Good core of returning starters along with promising sophomores. Finding arms that can find the plate consistently may be a challenge.
Coach — Sheri Smith, Tracy Smith, first season.
Key performers — Kaeleen Castro, Xyra Razon, Tamia Clarke, Rebekah Reynolds, Kiyah Reynolds, Raquel Barnes.
Outlook — Rebuilding-developing. Program now in its fifth season. Smiths step in as third coaches in three seasons. Hitting has been the highlight of workouts thus far. Barnes has the potential to develop into an ace pitcher.
Matthew C. Perry Samurai
Coach — Brad Cramer, second season.
Key performers — Olivia Reneau, Sr., P-C; Hailey Greulich, So., P-C.
Outlook — Rebuilding. Still limited in experience as a team, but getting gradually stronger with every practice. Hope and expectations high for a successful season.
Coaches — David Burgher and Lacie Arb, second seasons.
Key performers — Samantha Kwasniewski, Sr., 2B; Danyale Reynolds, Sr., 1B; Chloe Culbertson, Fr., P; Kyleyna Schniers, Fr., P; Kara Ohler, Jr., IF; Satomi Swayne, Jr., C; Haleigh Vargo, So., LF-SS.
Outlook — Rebuilding-reloading. A small core of experienced players, bolstered by two young pitchers charged with the responsibility of replacing innings-eating starter Aly Eitland. Strong up the middle from catcher to center field.
Robert D. Edgren Eagles
Coach — Sarah Richardson, 10th season.
Key performers — Brittany Crown, Sr., P (2016-17 D-II Most Outstanding Player); Sabrina Doria, Sr., C; Stephanie Provencio, Sr., 1B; Samantha Bullman, So.; Veronica Crawford, So.; Emily Adinolf, So.; Arrianne Nonan, Sr.
Outlook — Rebuilding. Richardson feels her Eagles can be competitive year in and year out, but as always, they’re hampered by not being able to practice outdoors until late March or early April due to snow. And with Crown a senior, Eagles will try to break in a new pitcher to succeed her.
2017 Far East Tournament finish — Runner-up.
Coach — Aracely Diaz, second season.
Key performers — Katie Lambie, Sr., P-IF; Jennifer Gueits, Sr., P; Adrianna Diaz, Jr., IF-P; Ashley Woodruff, So., P; Davannae Johnson, Sr., OF; Rachelle Booth, Sr., OF; Jordyn Logue, Sr.; Madison Derber, Jr.
Outlook — Rebuilding. A lot of new, young faces, and for the first time since the 2014 season, the Panthers take the field without two-time Far East MVP Kaia Austin. If the younger players can grow and develop, the Panthers will try to gun for their third D-II title in four years.
2017 Far East Tournament finish — Champion.
Coach — Aaron Wells, fourth season.
Key performers — Paris Hingel, Sr., OF; Kiara Coleman, Sr., OF; Deniele Cruz, Sr., IF; Litzie Figueroa, Jr., UT; Theresa Ames, Jr., UT; Jessica Atkinson, So., IF; Aika Davis, Fr., P-UT; Molly Ledbetter, Fr., UT.
Outlook — Contending for a D-II title repeat. As with last season, the Trojans have strong batting all up and down the lineup. Replacing departed pitcher Ally Chiarenza may be an issue, but Wells says the Trojans have some promising arms who might fill in nicely.