BANNER ELK, N.C. - The Lees-McRae College women's softball team prepares to enter the 2009 season led by head coach Julie Kennedy, who is currently in her sixth season at the helm of the program.
In 2008, the Lady Bobcats had their first .500 season since the 1998-1999 season with a 21-21 regular season record and an 8-12 record in Conference Carolinas play.
The Lady Bobcats will be led by junior Amanda Dodson (Walnut Cove, N.C.) and sophomores Magen West (Whitney, Texas) and Paige Coleman (Thomasville, N.C.). These three players know what it takes to compete with the best in our conference.
Last season Dodson sported an impressive 1.89 ERA, recorded 124 strikeouts in 129 innings and went 11-7 in 23 appearances. She also sported a .272 batting average in 125 at bats and led the team with 11 doubles. Her performance during the season, earned her two Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Week Honors. In the 2007 season she was the Second Team All-Conference utility player.
West was 10-10 in 25 appearances with a 3.45 ERA for the regular season and a 2.99 ERA in conference play last season; proving her ability to become better with experience. She recorded 60 strikeouts in 123 innings. In the batter's box for the Lady Bobcats she had a .270 batting average and was third on the team with 21 RBI in 100 plate appearances. Her numbers earned West Second Team All-Conference as the designated player during her freshman campaign.
Coleman had the highest batting average of any returner for the Lady Bobcats in 2008. Her .321 put her second on the team in 2008, and her 32 RBIs was a team high. She only struck out ten times in 134 at bats.
Kennedy also returns four more starters from the 2008 season. Paula Fryar (Clinton, N.C.) at catcher and third base, Nicole Baxter (Denver, N.C.) in the outfield, Meagan Knowles (West Palm Beach, Fla.) at second base and Anna Carter (Hurdle Mills, N.C.) at first base will all return to the 2009 lineup for the Lady Bobcats.
"The juniors and sophomores bring maturity, as well as experience being a competitive team in the conference," Kennedy said. "Last year we were picked to finished 11th in the conference but battled to finish the season ranked seventh."
Kennedy has also brought in a talented group of newcomers including a pair of talented transfers Veronica Ollier (Chula-Vista, Calif.) at shortstop and Heather Collison (Longview, Texas) at third base. Katie Alexander (Hampton, Va.), Ashley Benfield (Taylorsville, N.C.), Amanda Lenoard (Lincolnton, N.C.) and Kim Coley (Marion, N.C.) highlight Kennedy's freshmen class.
"Right now we have a lot of positive energy, and that's a great start," Kennedy said. "I think we all look around at practice and think with hard work and consistency we could have something special here."
This year's team looks to give their best every day, be more competitive in the conference and to have great team chemistry during the 2009 softball season.
The Lady Bobcats open the 2009 season February 6th in Raleigh,
N.C. against Meredith College.