August 16, 2007

Experienced Lady Tigers Softball Squad To Open Season August 20th

Taking over a coaching job can often be a difficult situation. First-year coach Kim Small feels fortunate not to have to face many of those pitfalls that snag other new leaders.

The new Scotland County R-I softball coach will benefit from familiarity with the program. She served as the junior varsity coach for the 2006 season and as assistant varsity coach she got to know the SCR-I players.

There won’t be a lot of new faces for Coach Small to get used to. The Lady Tigers graduated just one senior from the 2006 squad.

However that departure, teamed with an off-season injury likely will lead to one of the coach’s biggest decisions right out of the gate. Starting pitcher Karra Small was the 2006 squad’s lone senior. Her back-up and part-time starter Kaela Cook will not play in 2007 due to a knee injury that will require surgery.

Small will likely turn to junior Kristan Kaldenberg, who was the junior varsity starter in 2006. Another option on the mound will be sophomore Kelly Lister. Lister missed much of the 2006 season with a broken finger.

Fortunately for Coach Small, the pitching picture is really the only major change she expects for the 2007.

“We’re still early in the practice season, so I don’t have my line-up set in stone but we have plenty of experience coming back all across the diamond,” she stated.

Senior Kirsten Johnston heads the list of returning starters that includes nearly a dozen players that saw significant varsity time in 2006.

Johnston anchored the infield from the shortstop position. She made the transition from centerfield and earned second team Tri-Rivers All Conference honors as much with her glove as with her bat.

Deidra Dochterman earned similar honors in 2006 but she did most of her talking with the bat. The junior was among the team leaders in nearly every category on offense. She got the job done on defense as well manning first base.

Two SCR-I outfielders also received honorable mention on the all-conference lists. Leftfielder Valerie Oldham was the big bat in the Lady Tigers line-up typically batting clean-up for SCR-I. Fellow junior Tara Matlock used her speed to be an offensive force at the top of the line-up while mostly playing rightfield.

Lacey Jack, a senior, took over in centerfield for SCR-I and helped anchor the outfield defense. In prior years she had played shortstop and second base, giving coach Small plenty of options on defense.

Kellyn Wickert returns for her senior season at third base, where she started every game for SCR-I in 2006. Junior Melissa Cotton was the starter at second base in 2006 giving the Lady Tigers a very experienced infield.

Jessica Bair handled the catching duties in 2006 with fellow senior Andrea Shelley also seeing time behind the plate. The duo is athletic enough to play anywhere on the field, allowing plenty of flexibility when the line-up is penciled in each game.

Senior Megan Westhoff and juniors Kaitlin Caldwell and Christina Duzan all return with varsity experience giving the team plenty of options.

With six sophomores returning for 2007 as well as six incoming freshman, Small said the numbers will insure fans will get to see plenty of junior varsity action as well.

The 2007 season kicks off August 20th as the Lady Tigers host Highland in a varsity and junior varsity doubleheader. The first week of school will feature three games, as SCR-I travels to Brashear August 21st and then hosts Clark County on August 23rd.

Scotland County will try to improve on a 7-13 season a year ago. SCR-I was 1-6 in conference play and finished tied for sixth in the league. Putnam County won the league and went on to the state playoffs as district champions before losing to state champion Palmyra and closing the year with a 24-2 mark.

The Lady Midgets are still considered the team to beat in the conference despite losing three all conference first team performers. Putnam County returns junior hurler Stacy Hines, who was a first team performer, along with fellow top honor recipient Tessa Casady.

North Shelby finished third in the conference last year but returns league MVP pitcher Kelsey Resa, making them a team to watch in 2007.

The remainder of the league teams all took key losses to graduation, meaning SCR-I will return one of the more experienced squads in the conference, lending hope the Lady Tigers can leap frog up the standings in 2007.

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