Lexington softball: Team-by-team previews

mmaloney@herald-leader.comMarch 25, 2014 

Lafayette's Caroline Perkins batted in the first inning against Lexington Catholic during the district tourney last season. Coach Kevin Stephens said hitting will be one of the team's strengths.

MATT GOINS — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

  • Pre-season poll

    The pre-season Top 25, as voted on by the Kentucky Softball Coaches Association (first-place votes in parentheses):

    1. Greenwood (55) 936

    2. McCracken County (2) 848

    3. Owensboro Catholic (2)746

    4. Mercy (2) 694

    5. Ballard (1) 619

    6. Central Hardin 430

    7. Scott County 421

    8. Male 379

    9. Bullitt East 315

    10. Boyle County 273

    11. Madisonville (1) 187

    12. Oldham County 180

    13. Livingston Central 161

    14. Christian County 144

    15. Bowling Green 105

    16. Ashland 89

    17. Anderson County 88

    18. Louisville Holy Cross 87

    19. Marshall County 76

    20. North Laurel 75

    21. Henderson County 71

    22. South Laurel 64

    23. Meade County 54

    24. Sacred Heart 54

    25. Allen County-Scottsville 52

    Others receiving votes: Notre Dame, East Jessamine, Manual, Butler, Assumption, Lafayette, Franklin County, Montgomery County, Bourbon County, Union County, Eastern, Estill County, Woodford County, North Oldham (1), Edmondson County, Daviess County, Butler County, Boyd County, Franklin-Simpson, Green County, Magoffin County, Southern, Clark County, Pleasure Ridge Park, Ryle, Corbin, Elizabethtown, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Lexington Christian, Tates Creek, Clay County, Johnson Central, Bullitt Central, Apollo, Louisville Christian, Henry Clay, Conner, Fern Creek, Gallatin County, Harrison County, Russell, Southwestern, Warren East.

High school softball season is under way in Kentucky. Here is a look at teams in Lexington this season:

Bryan Station

Coach: Allison Hix (first year)

Last year: 3-12 (lost to Henry Clay in first round of district tournament)

Top players: Alyssa Lewis (Jr., 3B); Mackenzie Tolson (So., C); Cheyenne Whited (8th, 1B); Jordyn Johnson (So., SS); Bailey Conley (7th, LF); Jinger Maggard-Witt (Jr., CF); Kaitlyn Hurley (Fr., 2B); Kiersten Coleman (Fr., RF); Markiara Smith (So., RHP).

Coach Hix says: "The strength of our team will be some hitting, and developing fielding and communication. Our main concern is situation awareness. ... The goal of this team is to pick up the name of Bryan Station so people don't look at Bryan Station (thinking) 'oh, that's an easy win.' Basically, I want these girls to turn the program and say that they won't be pushed around anymore."

Defenders schedule

March 27 — at West Jessamine, 6.

April 4 — at Lloyd, 5 p.m.; 5 — at Lloyd, 1; 7 — at Bourbon Co., 6; 8 — at Dunbar, 6; 9 — Montgomery Co., 6; 10 — West Jessamine, 6; 11 — Clark Co., 5:30; 14 — Henry Clay, 6; 16 — Bourbon Co., 6; 17 — Lafayette, 6; 19 — at Tates Creek, 10 a.m.; 19 — vs. Somerset at Tates Creek, 11;45 a.m.; 21 — Dunbar, 6; 23 — Scott Co., 6; 26 — vs. Henry Co. at Western Hills, 9 a.m.; 26 — at Western Hills, 10:45 a.m..; 26 — vs. Conner at Western Hills, 4; 28 — at Henry Clay, 6; 30 — at Clark Co., 5:30.

May 1 — at Scott Co., 6; 2 — vs. Rockcastle Co., 7; 2 — at Madison Southern, 8:30; 3 — at Montgomery Co., 9:30 a.m.; 3 — vs. Walton-Verona at Montgomery Co., 11:15 a.m.; 3 — vs. Estill Co. at Montgomery Co., 2:45 p.m.; 6 — Washington Co., 6; 10 — Paris, noon; 13 — Estill Co., 6; 16 — at Lexington Christian, 6; 17 — at Bethlehem, 11 a.m.

Henry Clay

Coach: George Beard (second year)

Last year: 17-11 (lost to Woodford County in semifinals of region tournament)

Top players: Emily Miller (So., C); Beth Ann Hamilton (Jr., P/OF); Sarah Parson (So., SS/P); Olivia Pelton (Sr., LF); Lauren Craig (So., 3B); Anna Hensley (So., 1B/P); Alex Cooper (So., 1B/P).

Coach Beard says: "The (top) newcomer to our varsity is Tori White. She is a catcher and outfielder who we expect to really contribute. We lost five seniors last year and four starters. We believe we can by very competitive this season with a very tough schedule. We must improve on defense and help our pitcher as much as possible. Our strengths will be experience and good hitting."

Blue Devils schedule

March 26 — Dunbar, 6 p.m.; 27 — at Lafayette, 6; 28 — at North Laurel, 6.

April 8 — Scott Co., 7:30; 10 — at Christian Academy of Louisville, 7:30; 12 — Madison Central, 10 a.m.; 12 — Magoffin Co., 5 p.m.; 14 — at Bryan Station, 6; 15 — Lafayette, 6; 24 — East Jessamine, 6; 28 — Bryan Station, 6.

May 2 — Lexington Catholic, tba; 2 — Garrard Co., tba; 3 — Fleming Co., tba; 3 — Lexington Catholic, tba; 5 — at Scott Co., 6; 7 — at Tates Creek, 7:30; 8 — at Harrison Co., 6; 10 — St. Henry, 2; 10 — Shelby Co., 4; 13 — Woodford Co., 7:30; 15 — West Jessamine, 6; 17 — vs. Madisonville North Hopkins, 2; 17 — at Greenwood, 3.

Lafayette

Coach: Kevin Stephens (first year)

Last year: 23-13 (lost to Henry Clay in first round of region tournament)

Top players: Katelynn Mitchell (Sr., C); Sarah Wiggins (Sr. OF); Sara Cooley (Sr., 1B); Kellie Payne (Sr., 3B); Caroline Perkins (Jr., OF); Kecia Stephens (So., 3B/RHP); Aimee Mudd (So., OF/1B); Kara Bethel (So., SS); Madison Burke (Fr., 2B); Codi Forish (Fr., OF); Kara Winchester (8th, 1B/RHP).

Coach Stephens says: "Our strength is going to be, I think, our offense and hitting, with defense hopefully bringing up a close second. We're kind of young with our pitching, so we've got a lot of work to do with our pitching and actually are catching. We just have a couple older ones that we're depending on, so if they get hurt, mainly we're worried about really working with the young pitchers and catchers right now."

Generals schedule

March 27 — Henry Clay, 6; 30-31 — at Fort Walton Beach, Fla., tournament.

April 1-4 — at Fort Walton Beach, Fla., tournament; 8 — at Lexington Catholic, 6; 9 — at Nicholas Co., 5:30; 10 — Tates Creek, 7:30; 12 — Boone Co., 9 a.m.; 12 — Jenkins, 12:30; 12 — tba, 5:45; 15 — at Henry Clay, 6; 17 — at Bryan Station, 6; 18 — Greenup Co., 6; 18 — South Warren, 9:30; 19 — Scott Co., 12:30; 19 — Cambridge City Lincoln, Ind., 5:45; 23 — at Franklin Co., 6; 24 — at Dunbar, 6; 29 — Lexington Catholic, 7:30.

May 1 — at Tates Creek, 7:30; 3 — Grant Co., 9 a.m.; 3 — Taylor Co., 12:30; 3 — tba, 5:45; 5 — Dunbar, 6; 9 — vs. South Laurel at Somerset, 8:30; 10 — vs. Southwestern at Somerset, 9:30 a.m.; 13 — at Lexington Christian, 5:30; 14 — at Woodford Co., 6; 17 — at Owensboro Catholic, noon.

Lexington Catholic

Coach: Stephon Brown (second year)

Last year: 16-10 (lost to Lafayette in semifinals of district tournament)

Top players: Harper Ford (Jr., CF); Sophie Robic (Jr., SS); Hannah Martin (Sr., C); Carly Biega (So., 1B); CeCe Wittry (Fr., P); Marina Dickinson (8th, 3B); Catey Nash (7th, 2B).

Coach Brown says: "Coming off a 16-10 season and losing seven seniors last year, our team is very young. Going into this year, I knew this would be a year for rebuilding. I am relying on my returning players and captains Robic, Ford, Biega, Martin and Wittry to be leaders and help elevate the team to its highest potential. Even though this team is young, they have hearts the size of giants' and our team motto is 'never give up.'"

Knights schedule

March 26 — at Shelby Co., 6; 27 — Tates Creek, 7:30.

April 8 — Lafayette, 6; 10 — Dunbar, 5:30; 11-12 — at Harrison Co. tournament; 16 — Woodford Co., 6; 17 — Collins, 6; 22 — at Lexington Christian, 5:30; 24 — Montgomery Co., 6; 25-26 — at Turf Tournament; 29 — at Lafayette, 7:30.

May 1 — at Dunbar, 7:30; 2-3 — at Derby Bash; 6 — at Tates Creek, 7:30; 8 — at East Jessamine, 6; 12 — at Boyle Co., 6; 13 — Franklin Co., 6; 15 — Nicholas Co., 6; 16 — at Harrison Co., 6.

Lexington Christian

Coach: Gina Covington (fourth year)

Last year: 12-14 (lost to Tates Creek in first round of district tournament)

Top players: Jordan Dishong (Sr., CF); Alex Byers (Jr., 3B); Emily Orrender (So., SS); Melissa Myers (So., 1B); Hanna Dawahare (So., RF); Charis Hill (Fr., LF); Hannah James (8th, P); Kaleigh Covington (8th, C); Payton Rodgers (8th, OF); Elise Shewmaker (7th, 2B); Mary Beth Steger (Jr., IF); Abigail James (So., IF); Lauren Elder (So., OF); Brooklyn Brinegar (Fr., IF).

Coach Covington says: "We return all starting players and add four new high school players. (We're) still relatively young, but this will be the fourth year of a core group playing together. (We) feel good about the overall schedule and plan to surprise some teams in our district. ... The team slogan this year is Galatians 6:9: 'Let us not became weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.'"

Eagles schedule

March 27 — at Lincoln Co., 6.

April 4-5 — at Clarksville, Tenn., tournament; 8 — Tates Creek, 6; 14 — at Paris, 5:30; 15 — Dunbar, 5:30; 17 — at West Jessamine, 5:30; 22 — Lexington Catholic, 5:30; 24 — at Burgin, 5:30; 29 — at Tates Creek, 6; 30 — at Berea, 5:30.

May 2 — West Jessamine, 5:30; 3 — at Covington Latin, noon; 6 — at Dunbar, 6; 7 — Nicholas Co., 5:30; 8 — Lincoln Co., 6; 10 — Holmes, 10 a.m.; 13 — Lafayette, 5:30; 14 — Washington Co., 5:30; 16 — Bryan Station, 6.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Coach: Jenny Dalton Hill (second year)

Last year: 20-14 (lost to Franklin County in first round of region tournament)

Top players: Emily Bryan (Sr., LF); Rachael Ferguson (Sr., C); Shelby Shanks (Jr., P/3B); Stephanie Harvey (Jr., SS/2B); Tia Wilson (Fr., P/CF); Sydney Arnold (Fr., RF); Riley Brown (Fr., 2B/SS); Brooke Hill (8th, 1B/3B); Halie Morgan (Jr., P/1B/OF).

Coach Hill says: "The 2014 season for Dunbar softball has the toughest competition schedule to date. We return a great core of athletes and younger players have really stepped up in the off-season, preparing themselves for the challenges ahead. What we lack in pitching depth we hope to contain with offensive power. If we are able to play as a team and stay gritty, then we will be a tough team to beat."

Bulldogs schedule

March 27 — Henry Clay, 6; 28-29 — at Murfreesboro, Tenn., tournament.

April 8 — Bryan Station, 6; 9 — Franklin Co., 6; 10 — at Lexington Catholic, 5:30; 12 — Eastern, 11 a.m.; 12 — Bullitt East, 3; 14 — at West Jessamine, 6; 15 — at Lexington Christian, 5:30; 17 — at Henry Clay, 6; 21 — at Bryan Station, 6; 22 — Tates Creek, 6; 24 — Lafayette, 6; 26 — Oldham Co., 11 a.m.; 26 — Woodford Co., 3 p.m.; 29 — at Harrison Co., 6; 30 — Boyle Co., 6.

May 1 — Lexington Catholic, 6; 5 — at Lafayette, 6; 6 — Lexington Christian, 6; 8 — at Tates Creek, 6; 12 — at Madison Central, 6; 14 — at Estill Co., 6; 15 — Madison Southern, 6; 16 — at Bourbon Co., 6.

Tates Creek

Coach: John Groft (third year)

Last year: 14-20 (lost to Dunbar in semifinals of district tournament)

Top players: Kenzi Groft (Sr., RHP); Anna Mutters (Sr., C); Bailey Skaggs (Sr., 3B); Kendall Fields (Fr., SS); Mary Carter Downing (So., 2B); Hannah Ross (Jr., OF); Breeann Whitson (Fr. C/Utility); Mira Monk (Fr., LF).

Coach Groft says: "(Our strength) is going to be defense. With Fields and Downing back, we've got Kenzi on the mound and Mutters at catcher, so that gives us a strong up-the-middle presence. I really feel that our defense will help us win games this year. ... Bailey Skaggs is injured (arm); hope to get her back soon. She's definitely an impact player. She actually leads our program in career home runs."

Commodores schedule

March 26 — at East Jessamine, 6; 27 — at Lexington Catholic, 6; 28 — vs. McCreary Central at Russell Co. Classic, 7:30; 29 — vs. Marion Co. at Russell Co. Classic, 11:30 a.m.

April 8 — at Lexington Christian, 6; 9 — Woodford Co., 7:30; 10 — at Lafayette, 7:30; 12 — Manual, 11 a.m.; 12 — Russell, 2:30; 14 — Madison Southern, 7:30; 19 — Bryan Station, 10 a.m.; 19 — Somerset, 1:30; 22 — at Dunbar, 7:30; 23 — Madison Central, 7:30; 25 — vs. Spring Valley at Boyd Co., 7:15; 26 — at Boyd Co., 11:15 a.m; 26 — vs. Rowan Co. at Boyd Co., 1; 29 — Lexington Christian, 7:30; 30 — at Woodford Co., 7:30.

May 1 — Lafayette, 7:30; 3 — Clark Co., 10:30 a.m.; 3 — Grayson Co., 2; 6 — Lexington Catholic, 7:30; 7 — Henry Clay, 7:30; 8 — Dunbar, 7:30; 9 — Corbin, 6:30; 12 — East Jessamine, 7:30; 14 — Boyle Co., 7:30; 16 — North Laurel, 7:30.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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