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 of Paden City High School. In an effort to mix experience with newbies, head coach Jeanne Fox will put a lot of dependence on attitude.
"We stress sportsmanship, positive thinking, and to give a 100 percent each and every time they step on to the field," she said. "Can't does not exist in our vocabulary as a team."
Lost to graduation from the team were star Lady Wildcat pitcher, 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 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 on first, Stanley at second, Still at third, Cosper handling short stop duties with Anderson, Hizer, and Pierce in the outfield with Shreves as the DP.
In other situations, Neff will be found at first or short; Still could move to the six position; 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 coach Fox and assistant coach Chris Neff this season will be Neff, Hizer, Cosper and Kelly, among others.
As for goals, coach 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 assistant coach Neff, 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 said. "They have developed so much over the past few years, and work really well together. We have five freshmen this year that 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 began their season on Saturday at Williamstown. The team played host to the Valley Lumber Jills on Monday, Bishop Donahue on Tuesday and will host Clay Battlle on today at 5:30 p.m.