With a junior and freshman-laden team, and only two starters lost to graduation last year, 2014 could turn out to be a very interesting one for the Lady Wildcat Varsity Softball Team.
In an effort to mix experience with newbies, Head Coach Jeanne Fox will depend largely attitude.
"We stress sportsmanship, positive thinking, and to give 100 percent each and every time they step onto the field," she said. "The word 'can't' does not exist in our vocabulary as a team."
Lost to graduation last year were star Lady Wildcat pitchers Kelsey Loy and Hailey Wade. Returning with experience to the line-up will be senior Katie Shreves; juniors Hannah Stanley, Kayla Hizer, Amber Neff, Megan Pierce, Tori Anderson, Graeson Baker, Mallory Estel, and Nikki Little; and the lone sophomore on the team, Taylor Cosper.
First-year senior Jennifer Hickman and five freshmen - Abby Still, Madaline Cox, Kallie Arnett, Madison Kelly and Shelby Gatian - will don the Green and White jerseys for the first time this year.
"Since we have multiple girls that will be pitching, our line-up will change slightly, depending on who is pitching," the coach said. For the most part, if Neff is in the circle, fans can look for Baker to complete the battery as the catcher. Cox will take first, Stanley at second, Still at third. Cosper will handle the short stop duties and in the outfield will be Anderson, Hizer and Pierce and Shreves as the DP.
In other situations, Neff will be found at first or short. Still could move to the six position, while Shreves or Estel will back up the catcher's place. Cox and Arnett will be backing up first and possibly second and Hickman, Estel, Little, Kelly and Gatian will vie for outfield positions.
Basically, it will all depend on who is throwing strikes for the 'Cats on any given day. Looking to work the circle for Fox and Assistant Coach Chris Neff this season will be Neff, Hizer, Cosper and Kelly among others.
As for goals, Fox said both she and the team are looking to be successful in the post-season. "We definitely want to make it into the OVAC tournament again this season, and win our sectional games," she said.
"With this very talented group of girls I expect to see both goals become a reality."
Fox speaks very highly of her assistant coach, saying he is a definite asset to the team. "He is a valuable asset to the program and truly enjoys teaching the girls in a positive way."
"We expect to see great things from the team this year," she continued. "They have developed so much over the past few years, and work really well together. We have five freshmen this year who are all very talented. I expect to see them all with playing time throughout the season. We remind the girls to have fun when they are playing. The great thing about our girls is that they continuously strive for perfection."
The Lady Wildcats would have played host to the Lady Devils of Beallsville Tuesday, and will travel to Wheeling Central tonight at 5:30 p.m.
Following that contest, they will host Magnolia and Bishop Donahue in a twin-bill Thursday starting at 4:30 p.m.