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By: Corey Stott
MEMPHIS, Mo.- When you ask Scotland County Lady Tiger softball coach Riley Lucas about his team coming into this season, the first thing he points out is his veteran pitching staff. At all levels of play, it’s not just about having quality pitching, it’s about having depth of pitching as well. Lucas’ one-two punch of seniors Hanna Anders and Kina Billings certainly gives him the best of both worlds.
“Those two will be taking their talents to the next level after this season, and hopefully we can put a defense behind them to get the job done,” Lucas said of his veteran battery. Seniors Abby Doster, Lauren Triplett, Karli Hamilton and Caelin Robinson will be a large part of that defense. While he has six seniors on his roster, Lucas says that getting the younger players mixed into the rotation will be important to finding success this season.
Base running will be a point of emphasis this season for the Lady Tigers. “We’re going to try and bring some speed in on the bases. We’ve been working on a lot of baserunning early.”
Lucas says his main goal for the team is to get to the district championship game. If the Lady Tigers can win it, that’s gravy on the tators. But he says he wants to establish the mindset and tradition of regularly being in that game. He thinks that will be accomplished through a combination of hot hitting and solid defense.
The dugout will feature two assistant coaches. Matt Buford was on staff last year as an assistant coach. A new face this year on the coaching staff, but a familiar one in Lady Tiger program history, is Megan Creek. Creek was an accomplished pitcher during her high school career for Scotland County. She looks to bring that experience to this year’s team to help them set the bar even higher.
There is a lot of experience returning this season and Lucas wants to capitalize on that. He said that last season he felt like several close games got away from them. He wants to see his team learn from those situations and use it to win far more of “the close ones” this season.
Lucas also points out that there are some key games that show up early in the schedule for Scotland County prior to getting into the heart of the schedule. He says that will better allow his squad to get tuned up and ready for the grind of the conference schedule.
In an effort to increase community support for his program and community involvement of his players, Lucas says they will have several “theme nights” throughout the season. One popular feature is allowing young girls to go onto the field with the Lady Tigers. Lucas says it’s a great opportunity to build excitement for the team and help keep the pipeline filled with future Lady Tigers.
There will also be nights that pay tribute to veterans, first responders, law enforcement and other groups throughout the season. There will also be the traditional “pink-out” game that helps build cancer awareness and also helps raise funds for the local cancer fund. Lucas says he also hopes the larger crowds on those nights will help the girls learn how to play “on the big stage” and be better prepared to handle the pressure when the games carry bigger stakes toward the end of the season. The Lady Tigers will kick off the 2022 campaign Saturday at Brashear.