High school softball season is underway in Kentucky. Here is a look at teams in Lexington this season:
Coach: Hector Urbaneja (first year)
Last season: 4-23 (lost to Henry Clay in first round of district tournament)
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Top players: Katlyn Robinson (Fr., utility); Markiara Smith (Jr., RHP); Kiersten Coleman (So., OF); Imani Jackson (8th, OF); Jaida Perez (Jr., SS); Rebecca Beall (Sr., IF); Emma Hamilton (Fr., C); Cheyenne Whited (Fr., 3B); Kaitlyn Hurley (So., OF); Shelby McLean (So., 1B); Deriann Edelen (Jr., utility).
Outlook: Urbaneja, a native of Venezuela, was named coach of the Defenders about a month ago. He says the strength of his team appears to be "our pitching, and hitting. We're doing decently hitting the ball." He likes to run when possible, but has to have the right runners on base in order to pull off that style. McLean, who missed last season due to a knee injury, has three homers in her first four games this season.
April 6—Tates Creek, 6 p.m.; 7—at Frankfort, 6; 9—at Tates Creek, 6; 10—at Burgin, 6; 13—West Jessamine, 6; 14—at Scott Co., 6; 16—Lafayette, 6; 17—at Bath Co., 7:30; 20—at Lexington Catholic, 6; 23—at Henry Clay, 6; 24—Paris, 6; 27—Dunbar, 6; 28—Henry Clay, 6; 30—Harrison Co., 6.
May 4—Scott Co., 6; 5—Bath Co., 6; 7—at Dunbar, 6; 8—vs. TBA at East Carter; 9—at East Carter, 10 a.m.; 9—vs. Campbell Co. at East Carter, 11:30 a.m.; 11—at Paris, 6; 12—at Lexington Christian, 6.
Coach: George Beard (third year)
Last year: 16-13 (lost to Franklin County in first round of region tournament)
Top players: Emily Miller (Jr., C/LF); Sarah Parsons (Jr., SS); Beth Ann Hamilton (Sr., RHP/OF); Alex Cooper (Jr., RHP/1B); Megan Worrell (Sr., OF/2B); Lauren Craig (Jr., 3B); Tori White (Fr., C); Anna Hensley (Jr., 1B); Taetum Crawford (8th, OF).
Outlook: Defense has been the shining aspect to the team's early play, with only three errors in the first seven games. "I've been waiting for this for three years," Beard said with a laugh. What has been missing is timely hitting, but Beard expects that to come around. "I think this team, overall, has a great chance to make it to the state tournament," he said. "They just have to execute. I just think that these kids have been together for four years now and it's their time. It's time for them to step up and make plays and do something Henry Clay has never done, which is win a region title."
BLUE DEVILS SCHEDULE
April 3-4—at Woodford Co. tourney; 8—Dunbar, 6; 10-11—at East Jessamine Jaguar Classic; 13—Scott Co., 6; 15—Madison Central, 6; 16—Harrison Co., 6; 20—at Dunbar, 6; 21—at Lexington Catholic, 6; 23—Bryan Station, 6; 25—Triangle with Greenwood, Clark Co., tba; 27—Lafayette, 6; 28—at Bryan Station, 6.
May 4—Tates Creek, 6; 5—Western Hills, 6; 7—Lexington Catholic, 6; 9—Ashland Blazer, 2; 12—at Lafayette, 6; 13—West Jessamine, 6.
Coach: Kevin Stephens (second year)
Last year: 21-14 (lost to Franklin County in semifinals of region tournament)
Top players: Caroline Perkins (Sr., 3B); Kara Bethel (Jr., SS); Madison Burke (So., 2B); Aimee Mudd (Jr., 1B); Kecia Stephens (Jr., P); Kara Winchester (Fr., C); Jayda Doleman (Fr., LF); Kodi Forish (So., CF); McKenna Clark (Jr., RF).
Outlook: Having lost four seniors, the Lady Generals have some spots to fill. "The hardest spot to fill will be the catching position," Coach Stephens said. "Therefore, we are working hard with young catchers and still building pitchers from last year. I believe we have a lot of determined players to be a competitive team. They have been working very hard in the offseason. We are very excited to see how this team progresses throughout the year."
March 31—vs. Butler, Ohio, at Fort Walton Beach, Fla., noon
April 2—vs. Olentangy, Ohio, at Fort Walton Beach, Fla., noon; 3—vs. North Green, Tenn., at Fort Walton Beach, Fla., 9 a.m.; 7—at Tates Creek, 6; 9—at Dunbar, 6; 10—Anderson Co., 6; 11—Mercer Co., 8 a.m.; 11—Louisville Holy Cross, 9:45 a.m.; 14—at Lexington Catholic, 6; 15—Scott Co., 6; 16—at Bryan Station, 6; 17—Manual, 6; 17—Eastern, 7:45; 18—Central Hardin, 10:45 a.m.; 18—vs. TBA, 2:15; 21—at Berea, 5:30; 23—Dunbar, 6; 25—vs. Montgomery Co., at Cynthiana, 10 a.m.; 25—vs. Franklin Co., at Cynthiana, 2; 25—vs. TBA at Cynthiana, 5; 27—at Henry Clay, 6; 28—Lexington Catholic, 6; 30—at Lexington Christian, 6.
May 2—Bourbon Co., 10 a.m.; 2—Madison Central, 1:30; 4—Madison Southern, 6; 5—Tates Creek, 6; 7—at Woodford Co., 6; 12—Henry Clay, 6; 14—at Bourbon Co., 6.
Coach: Larry McCullough (first year)
Last year: 11-21 (lost to Paul Laurence Dunbar in semifinals of district tournament)
Top players: Georgie Ledford (Jr., OF); Haley Miniard (8th, Utility); Catey Nash (8th, 2B); Marina Dickerson (Fr., SS); Sophie Robic (Sr., CF); Kathleen Stacy (Jr., 3B); Andrea George (Jr., OF/C); Cece Banks (8th, C); Carly Biega (Jr., 1B).
Outlook: "I've got a bunch of seventh- and eighth-graders playing, and it's just going to be a long season," McCullough said. "We're going to be OK, but it's a rebuilding year, and it's a major rebuilding year so we've got a long way to go. The kids out there, they're learning. I can see improvement in them already, but it's just going to take time." The biggest positive is how well the team has meshed. The camaraderie between them is very, very good," McCullough said. "These kids care about each other. They're very coachable, and we've been working really, really hard on defense. Hitting's not up to par yet, but we've not had enough time to get out and do all that because of the weather. But as the season goes along, I think we'll make major improvement."
April 6—at Lexington Christian, 6; 7—Somerset, 6; 9—Pendleton Co., 6; 10—at West Jessamine, 6; 11—Nelson Co., 2; 14—Lafayette, 6; 16—Frankfort, 6; 17—at Tates Creek, 6; 18—at Nelson Co., 8 a.m.; 20—Bryan Station, 6; 24—Estill, 6; 27—at Simon Kenton, 6; 28—at Lafayette, 6.
May 1—West Jessamine, 6; 4—at Frankfort, 6; 6—at Estill Co., 6; 8—at Dunbar, 6; 11—at Anderson, 6; 12—at Western Hills, 6; 14—at Washington Co., 6; 15—at Pendleton Co., 6.
Coach: Greg Shewmaker (first year)
Last year: 17-14 (lost to Lafayette in semifinals of district tournament)
Top players: Alex Byers (Sr., 3B); Mary Beth Steger (Sr., OF); Melissa Myers (Jr., 1B); Emily Orrender (Jr., C/SS); Brooklyn Brinegar (So., 2B/P); Charis Hill (So., OF); Brylin Isaacs (Fr., SS); Elise Shewmaker (8th, 2B/P); Lindsay Workman (7th, OF); Jaylin McClanahan (7th, OF); Natalie Henry (6th, OF); Emilie Teall (6th, OF); Sophia Gabbert (5th, OF).
Outlook: "I couldn't be more excited," Coach Shewmaker said. "The ladies have worked extremely hard in the offseason to improve their strength, speed and skills. We have two seniors and two juniors that have been with the program since the seventh grade. We continue to build the program one step at a time and look to improve upon a successful 2014 season. We have a mixture of experienced players and new players that will be depended upon to help us reach our goals. The key to our season will be to improve each game. We will be young and inexperienced at a couple of positions that will be key as we approach the district tournament. Our slogan this year is #GOmad (go make a difference), taken from Matthew 28: 19-20."
April 6—Lexington Catholic, 6; 7—Eminence, 6; 10—Berea, 5:30; 13—Paris, 5:30; 14—at Dunbar, 7; 16—at Washington Co., 5:30; 17—at Danville, 6; 18—Cincinnati Hills Christian, 1 (dh); 20—at Lincoln Co., 6; 21—at Bryan Station, 7; 22—Bardstown, 6; 27—at Tates Creek, 7; 29—at Williamstown, 6; 30—Lafayette, 6.
May 1—Danville, 6; 4—Lincoln Co., 6; 5—Dunbar, 6; 7—Berea, 6; 8—Nicholas Co., 6; 9—Whitefield Academy, noon; 11—Washington Co., 5:30; 12—Bryan Station, 7; 14—Tates Creek, 6; 16—Williamstown, 11 a.m.
PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR
Coaches: Jenny Dalton Hill (third year) and Lee Davis
Last year: 19-13-2 (lost to Scott County in semifinals of region tournament)
Top players: Shelby Shanks (Sr., P/3B); Stephanie Harvey (Sr., SS/2B/C); Halie Morgan (Sr., P/1B); Sydney Arnold (So., Utility); Tia Wilson (So., CF); Riley Brown (So., Utility); Brooke Hill (Fr., 1B/3B); Olivia Judy (8th, C/DH).
Outlook: "We have a strong class of seniors to lead us this season, as well as a good core of girls with varsity experience," Davis said. "We also have some young kids who have worked very hard this offseason, and I am looking forward to seeing how they mix in with our more experienced players on the field. Thus far, our offense is stronger than our defense. We have had very few opportunities to get a lot of defensive work in the preseason due to the weather. We will have to continue to mix kids around to find our strongest lineup. Luckily, we have a lot of versatile kids, which gives us options."
April 3-4—at Woodford Co. tournament; 8—at Henry Clay, 6; 9—Lafayette, 6; 11—at Woodford Co. Triangle tourney, 10 a.m.; 13—at Tates Creek, 6; 14—Lexington Christian, 6; 17—vs. Collins at Franklin Co., 5:30; 18—vs. Spencer Co. at Franklin Co., 9 a.m. 20—Henry Clay, 6; 23—at Lafayette, 6; 24—at Madison Southern Triangle tourney; 27—at Bryan Station, 6; 29—at Lexington Catholic, 6; 30—Tates Creek, 6.
May 5—at Lexington Christian, 6; 7—Bryan Station, 6; 8—Lexington Catholic, 6; 9—at Mercer Co., 1; 11—at Bourbon Co., 6; 13—Boyle Co., 6; 14—South Laurel, 6.
Coach: Gary Preece (first year)
Last year: 10-16 (lost to Lexington Catholic in first round of district tournament)
Top players: Kendall Fields (So., SS); Breeann Whitson (So. C); Hannah Brown (Sr., 1B); Hannah Ross (Sr., OF); Mary Carter Downing (Jr., 2B); Bekah Henning (Sr., OF); Breonna Garner (Sr., RHP); Mira Monk (So., OF); Brynna Souels (So., 3B); Brooke Parker (So., OF); Sara Kardos (8th, IF).
Outlook: "The Commodores have a good blend of experience and talented young players who have worked exceptionally hard this offseason," Preece said. "In order to be successful our players must continue to compete on a daily basis. Our defense is very solid and it will keep us in games while our offense continues to grow. We don't return a lot of experienced varsity pitching, and if our pitching catches up with our offense and defense we'll be a very solid team. If the players can stay focused and hungry for success while they learn to play as one unit this could be one of our most successful seasons in some time. I firmly believe you get out of this game what you put into it, and I believe our players are starting to realize this."
April 3-4—at Carroll Co. Round Robin tourney, tba; 6—at Bryan Station, 6; 7—Lafayette, 6; 9—Bryan Station, 6; 11—Washington Co., 10:30 a.m.; 13—Dunbar, 6; 16—Model, 6; 17—at Lexington Catholic, 6; 18—Tates Creek Round Robin, tba; 20—at Fleming Co., 6; 25—Danville, 6; 27—Lexington Christian, 6; 28—at West Jessamine, 6; 30—at Dunbar, 6.
May 1-2—Creek On The Rise Challenge, tba; 4—at Henry Clay, 6; 5—at Lafayette, 6; 6—at Owen Co., 6; 8—Eastern, 6; 11—Frankfort, 6; 12—Fleming Co., 6; 14—at Lexington Christian, 6; 15—Bullitt Central, 6; 16—at Washington Co., 10:30 a.m.