August 19, 2010

Lady Tigers Returning Eight Starters for Softball Season

With what by all accounts should be a wide open race for the Tri-Rivers Conference softball crown, Scotland County may be poised to put its name at the front for consideration considering the Lady Tigers will return eight starters.

Coach Kim Small has plenty of players coming back, and despite having to fill the big shoes of last year’s lone senior, Kelly Lister, the coach hopes the influx of youth can offset the loss.

“Kelly is going to be hard to replace, but we have a couple of freshmen coming in that will start for us, and all the rest of the girls have another year under their belt,” she said.

Lister was the teams top threat at the plate, and also handled the crucial duties behind, as the team’s starting catcher.

Small said junior Loren Smith will handle the catching duties this season, moving behind the plate from first base.

She will be handling a pair of Lady Tigers hurlers, as last year’s starter Megan Creek will be joined by freshman Bethany Rader.

“Right now both girls throw about the same, so we don’t lose a lot switching between Bethany and Megan,” Coach Small said.

One difference this season will be the rubber itself, which will move back to 43 feet from the plate as MSHSAA rule changes take effect this year. The pitching distance previously had been 40 feet.

“It will be interesting to see how that impacts us, but I think it should help the hitters, making the game a little more about offense,” said Coach Small.

Whichever hurler doesn’t toe the pitching rubber, will be taking over for Smith at first base.

This three-person battery will make up the heart of the batting order as well.

Creek put up solid numbers at the dish in her freshman year, and Small hopes that lots of preseason work with the bats will pay off in 2010.

“That’s pretty much been our focus this past week, working on mechanics and getting a lot of swings in,” Small said of the first week’s practices. “Weather forced us inside for a couple days, but hitting was a top priority anyway, so it worked out well for our plans.”

Rader, Smith and Creek will all be hitting in the heart of the lineup along with the team’s lone senior, Skyler Alderton. She will once again handle the shortstop duties, but could also pick up the catcher’s mitt if needed.

The senior will anchor the infield that will look a lot like last year’s model with juniors Courtney Jackson and Cali Holt returning as starters at third and second base respectively.

The outfield centers around junior Elizabeth Duzan, who returns to start in the middle. The speedster covers a lot of ground in the outfield, and also will be counting on her legs to help jumpstart the offense in the leadoff spot.

She will be flanked by a combination of returning starters and new blood. Junior Kiley Frazier saw the bulk of the time in leftfield while sophomore Katie Howard was part-time starter in right field.

Small said Frazier could see some time on the infield, with freshman Hailey Dial playing her way into a starting spot in right field. Sophomore Jessica Morrow is another option in the outfield along with Anna Hirner, whose speed means the sophomore likely will see action as a courtesy runner as well.

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