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A lot of success that happens within the foul-ball boundary lines in fast-pitch softball has a lot to do with the pitching and catching.
Trimble County High School Lady Raiders softball Head Coach Walter McHargue, as of right now, said he believes his ptichers and catchers aren’t up to the standards he wants. But, he says, if they continue to work hard, they will be ready to go by March 26 season open at home against the North Oldham Lady Mustangs.
The Lady Raiders are coming off a hot season; they finished last season losing in the opening round of regionals to a very good Simon Kenton ball club last spring, but finished with a record of 20-9 and walked away as North Central Kentucky Conference champions.
With the loss of eight Lady Raider seniors last year, this team brings on board a whole new roster of talent as they prepare for the season.
“It’s going to be a big rebuilding season,” McHargue said. “We only have four players that started varsity last year returning to the field: Raegan Black (shortstop and pitcher), Jana Dunlap (moved from left field to center field), Megan Gilder (moved from first base to catcher), and Shannon Hickey (moved from catcher to third base).”
With 28 games guaranteed to play throughout the season, unless the weather causes cancellations, the young Lady Raiders will have to get to varsity pace and all on the same page quickly.
With the loss of many valuable players, McHargue said he will be putting some young players on the field and will need for them to “step up to the plate” and get the job done for the varsity team.
“We’re going to make plays and we’re going to make mistakes, but we gotta work and we have several freshman that are pretty good,” he said. “And with the great attitudes that our girls have, we’ll get better sooner than we know it.”
For returning players, the challenge will be to learn new positions; freshman players must get up to speed fast, and with a young core group, the coach said a lot of spots are still open on the field and up for grabs.
The younger girls have to work extra hard because they will have to put in a lot of work and work their way up and be successful in each level, from freshman to junior varsity, up to varsity at least before the Class A Tournament on April 18.
“We are practicing a lot on swinging the bat, having a consistent swing, and seem to be hitting the ball very well,” McHargue said. “But even though we haven’t been in game situations to hit the ball, where we stand as of right now. ... I’m glad with the way we are hitting the ball.”
McHargue observed that his situation is very similar to the one faced this year by head basketball coach Kerri Stewart, who also had many young players on the team. The key, he said, is for all the young players to work ard to become valuable assets to the team.
McHargue said the biggest uncertainty, at this point, is how the girls will be playing as a team by the time the All-A Classic rolls around, as well as by the time the NCKC tournament arrives. It’s unclear now, he said, how the team will stand up to the powerhouse schools in Oldham County.
A lot of teams that faced defeat when they played Trimble last year will be looking to get revenge on the young Lady Raider squad. McHargue said the Lady Raiders will just need to be ready to take on the tasks at hand.