Morristown West softball coach LeAnne Maness saw improvements from her team last season despite a 16-20 record. Now she’s looking for more improving from a veteran squad entering the 2013 season.
The Lady Trojans open their slate Monday with a road trip to Sevier County, and Maness said the team is ready to being the new year after their hard work in the offseason.
“Last year, I thought we made some improvements, and I hope to keep improving this year,” Maness said. “The girls have worked hard in offseason workouts, and I’m looking forward to what they are going to show on the field. We’re really anxious and excited to get started.”
West is loaded with experienced players, including returning seniors Cheyene Arnold, Hayley Epps and Taylor Rymer, along with a talented junior class which includes Savannah Edmonds, Sarah Fryman, Hannah Kinkead, Katie Lakas, Jessi Tinsley and Jenna Potts.
“I feel like our experience helps us out,” Maness said. “We have three returning seniors who saw starting time last year, and we have a great group of juniors. Those classes are the biggest part of this team. The girls are starting to show good team chemistry. They are working together to get better. It’s refreshing that they are doing that.”
Epps will get the workman’s load on the mound this season, but Tinsley and sophomore Candace Jenkins will see time as well in the circle.
“We have three pitchers that we feel can do good things for us,” Maness said. “Hayley carried us last year, and Jessi and Candace both threw a couple games last year. This year, I hope to split it up a little bit more between Hayley and Jessi, and Candace is working hard every day to get ready when we need her too.”
Maness said the corner infield spots are locked down, but there is still uncertainty as to who will play at second and short due to several players all performing well.
“Jessi returns at third base, and when she pitches, then Hayley steps in there,” Maness said. “They will flip back and forth there, and I feel confident in that position. We’re still not certain at shortstop who we will go with. We’ve had Savannah Edmonds, Hannah Kinkead and Taylor Rymer there, but we will probably use Hannah in the outfield.
“Katie Lakas returns at second base, and she played there a lot there last year. When she isn’t catching, that is where she will be. Sarah Fryman is back at first base also, so with the experience on the corners, we like where we are.”
Maness is shuffling the lineup in the outfield, moving Arnold to center from right and putting Rymer in left. In right, the starting role is still up for grabs among a trio of players.
“We’re moving Cheyene Arnold to center this year after playing in right last year, and she has a lot of speed,” Maness said. “Rymer will probably be in left field, and she played some in left and right last season. Right field, we’re still open. Edmonds, Kinkead or Jenna Potts could play there. I think the experience we have in left and center will help with whoever wins the job in right.”
Maness likes the younger players on the team as well, singling out Maysi Brotherton and Kaitlyn Hopkins as newcomers that have made an impression.
“Out of the freshmen and sophomores, Maysi Brotherton is one that has stepped up and can play catcher or in the infield, and she has even practiced in the outfield,” Maness said. “Also, Kaitlyn Hopkins is one that I really like her work ethic. She works hard and hustles every time, and she is very coachable.”
Maness said her team has the potential to be successful, but it all depends on each player being on the same page.
“I think we have a lot of potential,” Maness said. “It’s hard to say where we are when we haven’t had a scrimmage, but the way the girls are working, I know the potential is there to be successful. They just all have to be on at the same time.”
- By Matt Daniels, Tribune Sports Editor