Valley Girls Turn Corner
In the past several seasons, the Valley Lumberjills have just turned the corner and are working to compete with sectional champs Cameron and the always-tough Wheeling Central Lady Maroon Knights.
After posting a respectable, 9-15 campaign a season ago, VHS Head Coach Gary Partridge is very upbeat heading into the season. “We lost a couple nice players to graduation in Haylee Cecil and Crystal Cook, but we have a lot of upper classmen. Hopefully, we will be more competitive this season,” said Partridge. “All the tools are in place and there is plenty of experience. All we have to do now is cash it in.”
Partridge believes that he has the bats to get some runs, but will still need to improve on fielding and solidify the pitching.
Helping in that department is catcher Heidi Shaw, infielders Brittany Guthrie and Ashley Staley, and returning hurler Holli Schell.
Shaw looks to be the team’s power hitter, while Guthrie and Staley look to be the productive contact hitters. With just these three players, Partridge can expect to have a solid corp of base runners every game.
In the pitching department, Schell returns as the number one flame thrower, while sophomore Megan Bucher and senior Leah Morris look to toss some innings too.
The infield will probably feature either Bucher or Morris at first, Staley and Guthrie protecting the middle at second and shortstop, respectively, and senior letterman Morgan Starkey at third. Shaw returns behind the plate and Schell on the mound.
In the outfield, Taylor Highly might well be a shoo-in in left, Brooke Staley in center and Jessica Loy in right. However, the ‘Jills have Jessica Ashcraft knocking on the door and she should get many starts at either outfield positions.
Out for the first time is freshman Heather Cain. Although a novice to the game, she will give the ‘Jills a player to spot the starters when needed.
Available off the bench are juniors Rachael Wyatt and Kaitlyn Midcap, who will be used as the team’s utility player.
Valley’s schedule is competitive and, as usual. Partridge invites any team to schedule his Lumberjills. “Every time I go to the OVAC meeting, I tell the other coaches that we will play anyone and I mean anybody, anywhere any time,” stated Partridge. “I feel that is the only way to get better. I know we are pretty far out here and on the edge of the OVAC, but we aren’t shy about playing anyone.”
Partridge went on to add, “We always try to follow the other schools and see how everyone is doing and how is the best teams are. But, our main goal is to work hard, improve each game and try to get past a very tough Cameron team to get out of the sectionals. With five seniors and four juniors, this just might be our year. We can pull it off as long as the girls buy into everything and we can come together.’
The ‘Jills will host the Lady Pilots from River High School April 9 in a double-header starting at 1 p.m. at the Bryd Center Park in Pine Grove.