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Seeking to continue success

Seeking to continue success
Seeking to continue success
Lanesville brings back Anna Gibson, right, to play catcher after earning All-Southern Athletic Conference honors in her freshman season. File photos by Brian Smith (click for larger version)

Harrison County softball teams have been consistently tough on opponents in recent years. Lanesville came away with a Class A sectional title last year, while North Harrison reached the Class 3A final before bowing out.
Corydon Central has put together four consecutive Mid-Southern Conference championships, along with winning four of the last five Class 3A sectional titles.
Each of the three, along with South Central, tout strong pitching.
Here is a quick look at each of the four programs:

Corydon Central

Coming off a season in which the Lady Panthers won their fourth conference title in a row, Corydon Central will rebuild at places to seek a fifth.
Nearly the entire infield is gone to graduation with the departure of Angela Shutters (catcher), Katlyn Whelan (first base), Shawna Kopp (shortstop) and Annalea Miller (third base).
Coaches will look to fill the positions with mostly underclassmen. Within the program, head coach Kim Briscoe has 22 girls out and will play a junior varsity schedule.
The team opened the season last weekend with a trio of games across the river in a tournament hosted by Meade County. The Lady Panthers went 0-3 at the event, playing well in two of the three contests.
‘It’s a good, early season tournament because Kentucky teams have already played games before this,’ Briscoe said. ‘It also is a wake-up call for us this early to take what we practice to the field.’
The Lady Panthers return Ashley Crawhorn, just one of two seniors, to the circle. Briscoe said she pitched during the tournament but needed to gain some innings. Pitching out of relief was freshman Jenna Stiles. Briscoe said she had a nice introduction to the high school game working in relief.
Freshmen, including Kaitlyn Logsdon and Kristen Alcorn, are pushing for two of the infield spots. Sticking at second base is Ashley Mattingly. The junior took over duties up the middle midway through last season.
‘She’s a talented infielder that can really play second base,’ Briscoe said. ‘I don’t think anyone on the team can challenge her for that position.’
Junior Kaitlan Money is one of the best hitters for the Lady Panthers. She’ll lead off in the lineup but will switch positions from last season. She’ll take over catching duties after playing outfield the last two seasons.
‘She caught some in the past,’ Briscoe said. ‘She’s learning the ropes on how to call the game. She’s quick and has a strong arm.’
Sophomore Payton Windell is one of the best athletes on the team and will be the leader of the outfield.
‘We’re an athletic and fast team,’ Briscoe said.
She said she’s somewhat confident in the offense. All nine players put the ball in play at Meade County although they weren’t able to produce many runs.
‘A lot of it will be trial and error,’ Briscoe said. ‘We’ll experiment with the lineup. We can’t take our talent for granted; we have to work hard and play well.’

Lanesville

The Lady Eagles put an end to Henryville’s reign as Class A Sectional champions by claiming the title a season ago. The season, however, ended at regional, with a 3-0 loss at Rising Sun. Henryville, however, is gone from the sectional, moving up to Class 2A.
Lost to graduation is Ashley Schoen, a stickler in the circle the previous four years. Taking over, however, are four options for second-year coach Rusty Cecil.
Schoen’s younger sister, Robyn, along with Emma Zeller, are expected to chew up many innings. Both are sophomores and combined to go 7-1 last year when giving Ashley days off from pitching.
‘They went 7-1 at the varsity level and also pitched at JV and went 8-1 at that level,’ Cecil said. ‘I think we’ll be consistent pitching-wise.’
Also as options in the circle are a pair of transfers: junior Amanda Pavey and sophomore Jessica DeWeese.
Outside of pitching, Pavey is a versatile player who can field several positions. Cecil said she has played a lot of softball and brings experience to the team. DeWeese looks to fill the role of playing the corner infield spots.
When not pitching, Schoen will be up the middle at second base while Zeller started at third base last season. Filling in the shortstop position is junior Brooklynn Keinsley.
Back behind the plate is sophomore Anna Gibson, an All-Conference player in her first year.
Outfield also has depth, with senior Kayla Smith along with sophomore Erica Daly, a power hitter with speed, returning as an All-Conference performer. Filling out the outfield are Rachael Gary, Morgan Williams and Amber Parsons. Williams and Parsons are also options at infield positions. Senior Hannah Bays also returns after sitting out her junior year.
‘I have a good problem,’ Cecil said. ‘We have 12 solid players for nine positions. I may have to be the bad guy because somebody will have to take a turn sitting down. It’s going to be tough.’
Cecil said he’ll tend to go with who is playing strong at the time or on a hot streak along with keeping players fresh.
‘I doubt we’ll have a set lineup until halfway through the season,’ he said. ‘We’ll search for those right combinations.’
‘We’ve been working on the mental part of the game,’ Cecil said. ‘It’s a game of reaction and knowing what to do. If we play fundamental ball, and do the things we’re capable of doing, we should be successful.’
With 26 girls in the program, Cecil said they’ll also work to develop players at the junior varsity level.

North Harrison

Last season, the Lady Cats started all but one underclassman while making their run to the sectional final.
With Brittni Sears gone to graduation, North Harrison didn’t have to look far for her replacement at third base. It comes in the form of Melanie Johnson, who missed all of last season with a knee injury.
‘Melanie is back wearing a knee brace, but she is up and ready to go,’ said North Harrison coach John Lambert. ‘She has no fear.’
Johnson, a junior, played varsity as a freshman and will likely be plugged back into the middle of the lineup.
In the circle, the Lady Cats return veteran pitchers Alyssa McAfee and Miranda Whelan. Both right-handed twirlers, they come into the season after playing many games in the offseason.
‘Both learned a lot over the summer playing with travel teams and working individually with pitching coaches,’ Lambert said of the senior duo. ‘They are both throwing really well for as early as it is.’
Calling the pitching signals from behind the plate is senior Amber Longest.
‘We’ll look to get some leadership out of those three,’ Lambert said.
Kendra Lambert (shortstop) and Kennedy House (second base) cover the middle very well, according to Lambert. He added the sophomore pair also handle the bat well.
‘Right now, everybody is playing well,’ Lambert said. ‘No one has done anything spectacular in practice, but we’ll look to open things up pretty soon. No one is quite settled in yet, but sometimes that comes with games.’
Although the Lady Cats return eight starters, only three are seniors.
‘I feel we have people in the right spots,’ Lambert said.
Junior Brooke Lamon handles first base, a player Lambert says has a tremendous understanding of the position. Junior Tabby Bozynski handles outfield duties, along with Dallas Striegel, Bri Lampton, McAfee and Whelan.
North Harrison will play in two key tournaments, one in Jasper and another in Jeffersontown in Louisville.
‘It’ll be our first tournament outside of Indiana,’ Lambert said.

South Central

The Lady Rebels notched their first win of the season last week with a decision over Crawford County.
Heading into the spring, South Central is led by a pair of seniors: Erica Coulter and Allison Mathis.
Coulter has been in the circle all four years and looks to have another strong pitching season in her final go-round. When not pitching, Coulter slides over to one of the corner infield positions.
‘Erica pitched really well in the past and worked out really hard in the offseason,’ South Central coach Marty Kuerzi said. ‘She has a minor injury right now, but she won’t be out long. She and Allison are taking their senior year seriously and want to do well.’
Mathis, along with Coulter, was an All-Southern Athletic Conference performer last season. Mathis has a strong bat in the lineup and also plays the middle infield.
Outside of the seniors, the Lady Rebels are relatively inexperienced. Junior Samantha Turner is the lone returning player with significant playing time at the varsity level. Seeing limited time last year were sophomores Vivian Temple and Victoria Sallee.
‘We have a lot of youth and inexperience,’ Kuerzi said. ‘We only have 10 on the team, and we’ll play four freshmen at times.’
Among the incoming freshmen group is Haley Shaffer, a corner infielder who also gives the team an option at pitching. Emily Miller, a player who can shift from the outfield to the infield, has been a big surprise in the preseason. Kuerzi expects her to be an impact player as she gains experience.
The two remaining freshmen are Deidre Butler and Kelsey Eckart, both of whom will play outfield. Eckert is penciled to tackle centerfield duties.
Overall, Kuerzi said the team is coming along well.
‘There is a lot of camaraderie, and we’re coming together as a team,’ he said. ‘We have multiple kids that will go from the infield to outfield, but we want to be solid up the middle with catcher, pitcher, shortstop and centerfield.’
Sallee will be behind the plate and can catch a solid game, according to Kuerzi.
‘We play a very aggressive schedule,’ Kuerzi said. ‘We play two tournaments in Louisville, at Holy Cross and at Collins. The Collins tournament has big-time competition. We’ll have our hands full, but I look forward to it.’
For goals, Kuerzi said he wants his team to play well toward the end of the season.
‘We’ve got a good attitude right now,’ he added. ‘The coaching staff is new and doing a good job so far.’

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