Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part series. The preview for North County, Central and Farmington was in Thursday’s Daily Journal.
Despite being a first-year program last season, the Fredericktown Lady Cats made a solid account for themselves. If there is a team in the MAAA that could be classified as a sleeper, it may very well be the Lady Cats. Five seniors graduated from last year’s squad, which won eight games last year, but coach Eric Newell has several talented underclassmen who can step in and fill the void.
Sophomore hurler Jenny Kemp was the winning pitcher in every one of the Lady Cats’ victories last season, and returns this season with added confidence. One of Kemp’s chief supporters on the field will be her battery mate, senior catcher Courtney Butcher.
Butcher, one of two seniors on the team, plays aggressively and is a vocal team leader. Second baseman Sarah Sikes, the other Fredericktown senior, finished second on the team in hitting last year.
Freshman Amy Hendrix is one of the most promising newcomers to the team. Hendrix will probably be the opening day shortstop, and is also challenging for the leadoff spot in the batting order.
Coach Newell describes his young team as “fundamentally sound”, and expects his defense to be much improved from last season. The Lady Cats will strive to improve their base running skills, and must also make opposing hitters earn their way on base with hits, rather than walks.
The Potosi Lady Trojans struggled a bit last season, but are working very hard to turn things around this year. By all indications the Lady Trojans are well on their way to doing just that. Potosi is a young squad with just three seniors, but a promising crop of freshman and sophomore talent gives them the potential to be a dangerous team for seasons to come.
Coach Dennis Lawson is happy with his team’s progress during this pre-season. “We are trying to be more competitive this year,” says Lawson. “I’m very pleased with the way we are practicing, and how we have hit the ball so far,” says Lawson.
A pleasant surprise came when sophomores Brittany Chazelle and Emily Morgan decided to try out for the team after playing volleyball last year. Not only did both players make the team, but they will be in the opening day lineup. Chazelle will lead off and play shortstop. Morgan will bat second in the order and play third base. The quickness of both players will provide another asset to the Potosi lineup.
The starting outfield looks to be set with Liz Stewart in left field, Bethany Veach in center, and Jessica Sexton in right. Tiffany Woods returns at first base, and may be the only senior starter on the team. According to coach Lawson, the second base and catching positions are still up for grabs.
Probably the biggest question mark for the Lady Trojans will be their pitching staff, simply because the top two hurlers on the team will be untested freshmen. However, Robyn Pashia and Hannah Fritsche have been impressive in practice, and are ready to make an immediate impact.
The Ste. Genevieve Headhunters have gone from one of the most experienced area teams last season, to one of the least this year. Eight seniors graduated from last season’s 6-15 team, so referring to the 2003 campaign as a rebuilding year is not far fetched. Elaine Donze is the only returning senior to the team, so a strong group of juniors will be called upon to help lead the Headhunters.
Defense improvement will be a key factor in Ste. Genevieve’s success. Jenna Viox will anchor the infield from her shortstop position. Viox led the Headhunters in RBI and batting average, and was an honorable mention all-district performer as a sophomore last season.
The Headhunter defense will be under less pressure if the pitching staff is able to limit the walks allowed to their opponents. Junior Shaine Weiler will handle that task as she steps in to assume most of the pitching duties for the Headhunters.
Donze will be one of two reliable catchers on the squad. The other is versatile junior Katie Regan, who will also play other defensive positions, and can also be utilized as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner.
The regular season will begin on Monday with non-conference action for most MAAA teams. All six clubs will be in action on Tuesday, as the conference schedule gets under way.