August 18, 2011

Three-Year Starters Hope to Lead Lady Tigers to Next Level

For the second straight season, the Scotland County softball program returns a veteran team, after graduating just one starter. With another year under their belts, the senior laden squad will have to decide now or never for their aspirations of an elusive conference title and a place in the state playoffs.

Coach Kim Small will again have the luxury of a pair of top hurlers, as junior Megan Creek and sophomore Bethany Rader return to toe the rubber after successful 2010 campaigns.

Creek closed out the year with her most impressive performance, an extra-inning 1-0 loss to Knox County in the district semifinals, a game in which she struck a season high 14 batters.

Rader was equally as impressive in the district opener, throwing a one-hit shutout to lead SCR-I to the semifinals with a 1-0 victory.

The duo also represented the teams two most potent bats, leading the squad in batting average and homeruns.

Both hurlers will face a key change in 20011 however, as coach Kim Small is tasked with replacing the lone graduate, Skyler Alderton, who took over the catching duties midway through the season. Small will have to find a battery replacement for Alderton, who went on to be an all-conference performer both behind the plate and with the bat.

While filling Alderton's shoes will be tough, it represents the lone major change for Small, who will return a very experienced squad. Seniors Courtney Jackson and Cali Holt have started the past two seasons on the infield and will return to man third base and second base respectively.

Fellow senior Elizabeth Duzan also returns for her third season as a starter at another key defensive position, center field. The speedster also represents a key cog in the lineup batting leadoff.

Loren Smith moved out from behind the plate to play first base early in the year and will continue to provide her potent bat to the Lady Tigers offense. The senior will return behind the plate for the 2011 season to handle the catching duties.

The corner outfield spots saw a rotation of starters courtesy of the infusion of freshmen Shaye Wright and Hailey Dial. Coach Small mixed and matched their bats with holdovers Kiley Frazier and Katie Howard to give the team some needed depth.

Dial will move in to take over for Smith at first base in 2011. Coach Small said freshmen Randi Slaughter and Brienna Priebe will also be in the mix for the outfield starting jobs.

Joining the freshmen as new faces for the Lady Tigers faithful will be a first -year assistant coach. While he'll be making his first appearance for SCR-I, he'll need no introduction to Small. Don Miller, Kim's father, is joining the staff in 2011, taking over for Marc Colvin, who will be serving as the SCR-I Athletic Director. Small said she is looking forward to working with her dad, who coached her and her siblings growing up.

"He's been doing this a long time," said Coach Small. "It will be good for the girls to be able to share some of his experience."

Don has coached nationally ranked AAU teams in California since the mid 1980's, finishing as high as second place with one of Kim's teams.

"I retired this past year, so when Kim said she could use some help, it just seemed like a perfect fit," Don said. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to get back on the field with the kids and hopefully I can teach them a thing or two that I've learned over the years."

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