Banner Elk, NC--As Head Coach Julie Kennedy enters her fifth year at the helm of the Lady Bobcats women's softball team she does so with a core of six returning players and six talented incoming players. The team will look to improve on last year's 15-28 record, especially looking to make big strides in pitching, where they finished 10th in the league in 2007, while continuing to build on the solid foundation already established in defense (4th in conference) and batting (5th).
Kennedy will be building the program around two returning 2nd Team All Conference players: junior Salle' Horner and sophomore Amanda Dodson.
Salle' Horner, the Bobcats' shortstop from (Lexington, SC), with her ability to lead both on and off the field, will not only play in the short stop position but will also serve as the team's captain. Horner finished second in the conference in runs scored, third in stolen bases and ended up with a .353 batting average for her sophomore year. As captain, Horner will play an important role in leading and guiding this year's squad and add a measure of stability to the team as well.
Sophomore Amanda Dodson (Walnut Grove, NC) is expected to be an impact player both on the mound and from behind the plate. As a freshman Dodson finished fifth in the conference in strikeouts by throwing one strike out per inning and will be counted on to continue to improve on the mound. She also was a power for the Bobcats in the batter's box, leading the team with a .382 batting average and .649 slugging percentage which also placed her fifth in the conference in both categories for the 2007 season.
Also expected to contribute on the mound is freshman Magen West. The Whitney, TX native was ranked in Central Texas as 1st in RBI, (49), 2nd in strikeouts, (235), and fourth in both hits(48) and pitching wins with 20 her senior year. She also posted a 1.07 ERA in District. West will be looked at to add depth and consistency from the mound.
Lauren Gisler (Peachtree City, GA) will step in as a relief pitcher as well as an opener at times, as she will be counted on to provide a few solid innings when called upon. Gisler, a gifted communicator and motivator, is also a vocal leader for the Lady Bobcats. With the pitching combination of Dodson, West, and Gisler, Coach Kennedy expects to see her squad's pitching ranking climb this season.
Sophomore Megan Davis (Alexis, NC) and freshman Paige Coleman (Thomasville, NC) are expected to split time in the catcher's position. Davis demonstrates great leadership behind the plate, with her maturity also revealing itself through her team-leading GPA. Coleman will also be utilized in the infield and is expected to more than ably step in where needed while also fueling the team offensively.
Paula Fryar, the sophomore third baseman from Clinton, NC, brings a passion for the game to the field which is evident whether she's playing third or swinging the bat. Her continued solid contributions will be a boost to the Lady Bobcats this year.
Also spending time in the infield this spring will be freshmen Meagan Knowles (West Palm Beach, FL) and Anna Carter (Hurdle Mills, NC). Each is expected and will be relied upon to contribute extensively to the team's offense.
After winning a starting position in the outfield late last year, sophomore Nicole Baxter of Denver, NC will be looked upon to direct the newcomers flanking her centerfield position. Baxter's ability as a momentum changer will be an asset to the Lady Bobcats throughout the year.
Last year the Lady Bobcats finished the season strong, knocking off Belmont Abbey before falling to Limestone College 1-0 in a nine inning contest in conference tournament action. They plan to build on those successes this coming year.
"We want to do the best we can every day, whether it is in a game, at practice or in the classroom," commented Head Coach Julie Kennedy. "Our goal is to become competitive in the conference, focusing on a hard work ethic and good attitudes. We hope by doing those things well to build a foundation for a successful women's softball program at Lees-McRae."
The Lady Bobcats season is set to begin in Atlanta, GA with a doubleheader against Clark Atlanta University on February 2nd. Games are scheduled to begin at 1:00pm & 3:00pm
Pictured Top Left: Salle' Horner
Pitctured Bottom: Amanda Dodson