Excitement is building for softball fans at Tyler Consolidated High School as the 2014 season gets underway. Back for her second year as head coach of the Lady Knights, Samantha Livingston says she could not be more pleased with the direction the softball program is moving.
"We have 19 girls out for the team and they're excited and anxious and ready to play," she said. "While the large number of players scares me a bit, it's great to know that this many girls want to participate."
The loss of three seniors-Martina Parrish, Taylor Clem and Electra Livingston-to graduation last year left holes in the Silver and Black line-up, but with 19 possibles to choose from, coach Livingston has the opportunity to be choosy.
Seven seniors will vie for starting spots among some athletic and experienced underclassmen. Seniors: Shandi Long, Bailey Smith, Devinn Moore, Jasmine Moore, Alex Bubenchik, Esmee Coster, and Megan Carpenter, the majority with at least one year of experience, will each look to make the starting line-up.
Lone junior, Lilli Orr, returns to an earned infield position, while sophomores Tiffany Smith, Michele Doyle and Baylee Roberts will do the same.
New to the wearing of the Silver and Black varsity uniforms this season will be eight freshmen: Rhhianna Long, Madison Wet, Kylie Martin, Bailee Longwell, Vanessa Templeton, Megan Miller, Maria Long and Payden Clem, all with very real chances to break into the starting roster.
"Fundamentally, we're better than we were last year," coach Livingston said. "We have some excellent athletes on the team and all of the girls seem to have a great attitude coming into the season."
She continued, saying that she and assistant coach Roger Smith are very pleased with the effort given and improvement shown by the members of their team. "We don't have an easy schedule, but I think we're going to be okay. We're absolutely looking to get more wins than we had last year. We're going to be working hard and we'll be competitive."
Still in the pre-season at this writing, the Lady Knight starting line-up was still up in the air, with several questionable holes to be filled as practices continue. A few tried and true players will likely be returning to earned starting spots such as Bubenchik, in her fourth year at the catcher's slot, Long, Smith and Carpenter in the outfield, Orr as a infielder, and both Moores playing first and third when not pitching. However, going at least five deep, the strength of the pitching staff will no doubt tell the tale of the 2014 season.
Led by twins Devinn and Jasmine Moore in the circle, the Silver and Black pitching staff will also include newcomers West, Martin and Templeton.
"We're pretty confident in our pitchers," the coach said. "They are looking strong in practice and we're pleased with what the freshmen are bringing to the table. Right now, we're just trying to place everybody in the best possible scenario for the team."
The Lady Knights will host Doddridge at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.