August 28, 2003

Lady Tigers Will Lean On Pitching, Defense In Effort To Bring Home 2003 Championship

If the saying, “Pitching and defense wins championships” then the Scotland County R-I softball team can expect to find themselves back in the district title game again in 2003.

The team is returning the talented battery of pitcher Sara Eggleston and catcher Brandi Mallett and has a number of holdovers from a vastly improved defense that got the Lady Tigers to the championship game before Putnam County ultimately edged them out for the district title.

“Obviously we will be counting on our pitching and I feel like our defense is going to be a strength even though we have some big shoes to fill on the infield,” said second-year coach Terri Slaughter.

The big shoes were vacated by Tri-Rivers all-conference performers Meagan Fromm and Amy Blomme. The duo not only made up the double-play combo that anchored the middle of the infield but the two graduates also were the team’s top hitters.

Coach Slaughter said she thinks the defense will be able to fill in at the two spots but admitted she is concerned about filling the offensive holes.

“Our offense is going to decide how far we go this year,” she said. “If we hit like we have in practice then with our pitching and defense we will compete with anybody but it’s all going to boil down to the bats.”

The team will have a solid nucleus of returning players headed up by eight seniors.

Eggleston earned first team all-conference honors as a junior compiling a 16-6 record on the mound. She racked up 167 innings pitched with a 0.48 ERA. She allowed just 94 hits and walked 43 batters while fanning 190.

Sara will also be one of the team’s leading threats at the plate. She hit .257 last year but compiled a .485 on base percentage as the team’s leadoff hitter. She led the team with 14 runs scored.

Mallett earned second team all-conference honors as arguably the best defensive backstop in the league. She’s not too shabby with the bat either, compiling a .254 batting average in 2002 including a .333 mark in league play.

The lone returning starter on the infield will be third baseman Jessie Cotton. Another one of the team’s seniors, Cotton was second on the team with nine RBI last year and also recorded team highs in triples and home runs.

Ali Fromm, last year’s starting center fielder will move in to take over for her sister at shortstop. She joins fellow track team sprinters Cotton, Eggleston, Katie Schneider and Valerie Crawford to give the team a big element of speed on the base paths.

Schneider is slotted to take over for Blomme at second base after seeing time off the bench in 2002 as a pinch runner and infielder.

Crawford is penciled in to play centerfield and also can play on the infield if needed. She saw considerable action last year as a sophomore, hitting .240 in 54 at bats. She was second on the team with eight stolen bases and tied for the lead in walks.

Crawford will be joined in the starting outfield by a pair of fellow juniors. Rebecca Consbrock will get the nod in right field with Jacqui Drummond slotted to start in left field.

Senior Becky Miller will take over for Jennifer Crawford at firstbase. She and Jenna Shalley split time at designated hitter in 2002 and both are being looked to for added offensive punch this year. After hitting .326 last year Shalley’s bat will find the senior a spot in the line-up on a regular basis. Elizabeth Monroe, another senior, gives the team added depth at the first base/DH positions.

Coach Slaughter praised the team’s depth and pointed out the starting line-up definitely is not set in stone. She said Ashley Ellison, Jamie Fuller and Emily Kiddoo have worked themselves into the picture for playing time.

The Lady Tigers will have their work cut out for them in 2003 as the conference and district will continue to provide quality competition up and down the ranks. Putnam County returns a pair of first team all conference players to try to defend their district and conference titles. Clark County will be much improved behind sophomore hurler Ashley Wallingford. Rival Knox County also will be strong again in 2003 with junior pitcher Katie McMahon.

Brookfield and North Shelby both took keys losses to graduation as did Schuyler County and Milan.

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