Lincoln County High School’s Lady Falcon softball team is on familiar ground, reloading for the 2013 season.
The ladies lost just two seniors from last year’s team, catcher Jordan Griner and pitcher Tanner Sanders, both now playing at the college level. Those returning bring a lot of experience to the program.
Coach Troy Smith gets his 18th year underway as head coach. He is assisted again by veteran Coach Reese Hambrick for the fourth season. For the past three years, Smith’s ladies have finished one win away from advancing to the Spring Fling, joining the final eight teams to play for a state championship. The Lady Falcons have never advanced to the big dance. This year’s team again shows potential of being the one to get over the hump.
In 2012, the Lady Falcons finished with a school-best 43-8-1 record and gave LCHS its third consecutive district championship and second consecutive regional title. But, in the sectionals, the ladies’ season came to an end against Coffee County.
Solid defense and taking advantage of scoring opportunities will be key to the ladies’ success in 2013. The competition is going to make more contact this season – any errors will prove costly. When the ducks are on the pond, runs will have to be generated.
“We set our goals each year and to make it to the Spring Fling is ours again this season,” said Coach Smith. “We’ve got seven returning starters from last year’s team and a good mix of young players.
“No doubt, we’ll have to play more defense throughout this season,” he added. “But, the potential is there. We’ve got several girls who can hit the long ball, and we make contact – we have a lot of team speed.
“We’ve got more depth on the bench and several girls who can play a variety of positions,” he added. “If somebody goes down, we’ve got folks to step up and fill in. That gives us more options this season. We’ve got a lot of girls who play ball throughout the year so they are comfortable on the field.
“In our district as returning champions, we’ll be the team everyone is shooting for,” Smith continued. “Tullahoma is a young team, and they’ll be up and coming. Lawrenceburg was real young last year – they’ve had a lot of tough teams through the years.
“Shelbyville has their pitcher returning and will make a run at it; they have a new coach this year. Columbia lost their pitcher, and we’ll have to see who steps up. Franklin County is capable of playing some good ball.”
With a roster of 23 players, 15 return from last year’s team.
The Lady Falcons have four seniors in the leadership role this season. They are Taylor Boyett, Kristen Hancock, Holley Gray and Baylee Hammons.
Three have signed to play at the next level. Gray will attend Lee University, Hammons, Martin Methodist, and Boyett has committed to Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.
Juniors are Taylor Ferguson, Brooke Mann, Lauren Hunter, Miller Baggett and Traci Shelton.
Sophomores are Lauren Reese, Nichole Tucker, Riley O’Neal and Gus Brantley.
New to the program this year are freshmen Erin Tuten, Alyssa Howell, Cailey Alverson, Breanna Owens, Hannah McCulloch, Brileigh Gentry, Madison Montgomery and Kaitlyn Howell.
On the mound, Boyett, Hunter and Mann will fill the role. Sophomores O’Neal and Tucker will work as catchers.
On the infield, look for Hammons, Baggett, Gray and Hunter.
In the outfield, look for Ferguson, Shelton, Brantley and Hancock.
Last week in the Hendersonville Tournament, the Lady Falcons finished with a 10-4 overall record, including a JV win against some stiff competition. Thursday through Saturday, LCHS will play in the Middle Tennessee Coaches Association Tournament played at Columbia Ridley Park.
The ladies kick off their district action traveling to Shelbyville on Tuesday, then hosting Columbia on Wednesday with both varsity games starting at 7 p.m. JV starts at 5 p.m.