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Archives 03-15-2006
Sports

Lady Cats rebuilding in 2006 softball season





Lady Cats rebuilding in 2006 softball season

Dewain E. Peek/OCN staff
Members of the 2006 Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats softball team are, kneeling from left, #9 Lisa Reeder, #14 Ashley Mitchell, #8 Kirsti Dillon, #33 Jessica McDonald, standing, #18 Sarah Neff, #10 Autumn Webb, #19 Jessica Conatser, #3 Abby Jolley, #21 Amanda Roberts, #20 Kayla Ferrell, #88 Liz Hall, #2 Kaylie Wilson, #13 Katie Vaughn, #22 Rebecca Savage, #7 Betsy Wright, #57 Sarah Hollingsworth, and, not pictured, Kendria Kilgore.

By DEWAIN E. PEEK, OCN Sports
Usually when coaches say, "This will be a rebuilding year," they mean they have lost two or three everyday players at key positions and will have to groom new players for those vacancies.

But Lady Wildcats Coach Mike Johnson will truly be rebuilding his Livingston Academy softball team this year.

"We've got to replace 6 of the 9 starters we had last year," Coach Johnson said.

The three everyday players returning from last year are seniors Lisa Reeder, Jessica McDonald, and Kirstie Dillon.

"Lisa Reeder will probably still be at shortstop," Coach Johnson said. "She's been at shortstop since she was a freshman.

"Jessica McDonald has been at second the last two years. She'll probably stay there.

"Kirstie Dillon played first a lot last year. Depending on who's pitching, she can play outfield or infield.

"She'll be moved around some, and she's good enough to play pretty much anywhere. She's a pretty good athlete, real smart in softball. She'll be either centerfield or first base."

With the graduation of starting pitchers Ashley Howard and Tara Taylor, who will be pitching is a big question.

"We lost two really good pitchers last year," Coach Johnson said. "This year we have two girls who are juniors - Kaylie Wilson and Katie Vaughn. Kaylie is a little faster than Katie is, but I think Katie has more accuracy."

Another aspect of Vaughn's game has Coach Johnson intrigued.

"Katie is a left-hander," he said. "It twists them around. Hopefully it will mess some teams up."

The team also lost the premier catcher in the district, Stasha Babb. The catching position will be up for grabs between two sophomores,Liz Hall and Betsy Wright.

"Both of them have pretty good arms," Coach Johnson said. "They're not quite as quick as Stasha was. She was really good at when the ball got past her, she was after it. They don't have that instinct that she did to go after the ball.

"They've both got a good chance of getting to play. Hopefully one of them will step up and take the position.

"Third base is kind of a toss-up and our outfield - we've got to replace the whole outfield from last year," he said. "That's the positions that are a toss in the air.

"Right now, Amanda Roberts will probably be playing third base.

:"For the outfielders, a lot of them could come in and fill it out. We'll just try out some different ones and see who does the best."

As is normally the case with high school softball, hitting is a concern.

"The only really good hitter we have coming back is Jessica McDonald," Coach Johnson said. "The other girls who have played are not quite as good. She's took a lot of hitting lessons. She goes down to Nashville and takes hitting lessons. She's got some power and she's good enough to hit the ball pretty well.

"That's going to be what will make or break us is hitting, as it always is for us because they're just not used to fast-pitch softball."

Team speed is a positive for the Lady Wildcats.

"We've got some pretty fast girls, and we picked up a couple of them this year. Sarah Hollingsworth, she's really fast, probably the fastest girl on the team. She'll be used as a courtesy-runner for the catcher or pitcher," Coach Johnson said.

"We're not the fastest team, but we've been doing a lot of running. Dusty Whitaker, the assistant coach, he's been having them run 2 or 3 miles a day, so they're going to have some endurance.

"He's come in and helped us out to get in better shape than we have been in the past few years. Hopefully we'll be able to win some games just on that."

Another plus for the team is a new field house.

"We haven't given it a good name. Maybe we'll do that if we can get a sponsorship for it, Coach Johnson suggested.

"It's the first time we'll have public restrooms at the softball field. They are very close to being finished. Hopefully they'll be open for the first home game.

"It's a nice little facility," he said. "It has a locker room. The girls get their own bathroom inside their locker room. And it has a storage room for me to put stuff in to get us out of that one building. Everything was kept inside the concession stand. That should clear up some room to have a better concession stand.

"The Board of Education has helped us out on that, and I would like to thank them for helping us get that started and getting it done."

The district will also have a different look this year with the departure of Jackson County and the addition of Macon County.

"Macon County may contend for the district championship this year. They are a really good team, Coach Johnson said.

Where Livingston Academy will fit into the District 7-AA picture is anyone's guess.

"We're going to be a pretty young team. We're pretty much even - four seniors, four juniors, five sophomores, and four freshmen - but we lost a lot of experience from last year. There are a lot of positions to fill.

"It will take a while to find out how good we will be."

LA's 2006 season was scheduled to begin Monday, March 13 at Clay County. The Lady Cats will travel to Sparta to take on White County at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, then they will open the home season with a 4 p.m. game against Red Boiling Springs on Friday, March 17. The Lady Cats will travel to Monterey for a 5 p.m. game Monday, March 20.

 

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