Holcomb softball seniors left massive legacy for 2025 group to pursue

The 2024 Holcomb High School softball team poses in May after finishing third in the MSHSAA Class 1 State Finals at the Killian Sports Complex in Springfield.
Tom Davis ~

The Holcomb High School softball program has won at least 20 games in each of the past five springs, so it is statistically likely – particularly with veteran Hornet coach Matt Casper guiding the group – that Holcomb will reach that level of success again. However, an obstacle to overcome is the fact that the Hornets graduated a legendary senior class of five players who have achieved an incredible amount of success over the past four years.

“101 wins in four years,” Casper said of his senior class following the 2024 season, “three Final Four appearances, a second-place finish and two third-place finishes, four conference championships, you can’t ask for much more.”

Casper will lose seniors Kaetlyn Danley, Jaden Bowen, Jules Gurley, Jasmine White, and Maleigh Lemings, who according to Casper is an all-timer.

 “Maleigh is a special player,” Casper said. “She’s a special athlete. She is probably one of the best athletes, boy or girl, that I’ve coached.”

Lemings was named to the MHSFCA First Team All-State squad at shortstop, while Hornet junior-to-be catcher Ella Lemings, Danley (third base), junior-to-be Ava Gurley (at-large), and senior-to-be Chloe Hendrix (outfield) were also named to the prestigious team.

“They should have a lot of good memories,” Casper said.

As much as Casper, who has led the Hornets on the softball diamond for six seasons, will miss those seniors on the diamond, he’ll miss them more off it.

“In the end, it is just a game,” Casper said. “But it means more to us with the relationships that we formed. All that we went through. All of the hard work. All of the practices. It becomes more than a game.”

The Hornet players stressed that Casper was as demanding of them to meet expectations away from the sport as he was during practices and games. His words following the season mirrored that.

“The fact that they were this successful on the field,” Casper said, “they are going to be very successful off the field, and that makes me proud as their coach.”

The Hornets will return a dozen players from their 2024 roster, but just Hendrix and right fielder Emma Bader in the small senior class next spring.

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