Pitching a good problem for CC

   If there is such a thing as a good problem to have in the softball season, Columbia City has a big one.
   Unlike in baseball, softball relies on the arm of one, maybe two, at the mound during the season.
   From 2010 alone, the Lady Eagles return two from a 6-1 share of the Northeast Hoosier Conference championship.
   The depth of Columbia City’s pitching staff grew to three with incoming freshman Allie Vodde.
   Together with older sister Cassie Vodde and sophomore Alyssa Brandt, the trio gives head coach Steve Cox a good problem to have.
   “And they’re both good,” Cox said of having two Voddes. “I told somebody today that we’ve probably got the best pitchers in our conference. I really do believe that.
   “You just can’t get them enough innings. It’s a problem but a good one to have.”
   The biggest issue the Lady Eagles might face is injuries early on with two starters going down during spring practices.
   Length of the injuries is still unknown but Columbia City will start the season without what would have been first baseman Megan Giffin and leadoff batter Emily Gangwer.
   “We’ve got kids that are going to step up,” Cox said. “I want them back but we have young kids that are pretty good and we’ll fill those spots up pretty fast.”
   According to Cox, veteran bat Kaylee Parks will move to the top of the lineup.
   “Kaylee Parks might be one of the slower kids on the team but I’m going to lead her off just because she gets on base all the time. I think she was over .500 for on base percentage last year.”
   With the injuries, the defensive look will change as well with Hannah Schnorr coming in from the outfield to cover first base.
   Allie Vodde lines up at second base when not on the mound. Claire Kauffman comes into third base with Brandt switching to shortstop.
   Brandt serves as the big bat in the lineup for the Lady Eagles. Brandt broke out in the sectional last season hitting a key home run.
   “Brandt is probably one of the two (or) three best ball players I’ve ever coached,” Cox noted. “I’m trying to make her believe that now and she’s getting there.
   “She’s just an all-around good player.”
   After losing their first conference game of the season in 2010, the Lady Eagles ran the table tying for first-place.
   A 15-8 season ended in a sectional championship loss to Wawasee.
   All of it serves as motivation for Columbia City.
   “Everyone’s goal is to win our conference outright,” Cox commented. “That’ll be tough because there are some good teams.”