- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Change is the keyword to the start of the 2011 season for the Lady Panthers’ softball team. Under the direction of new head coach Ken Blair, a former baseball coach, the team is making adjustments to all aspects of its game and strategy.
Last year’s team finished the season with a 5-19 record and ended the season with a first round district loss to Henry County. While only one senior graduated, the team lost two of this year’s prospective seniors. Instead, the team will be led by seniors Haley Damron, Tasha Hunter and Christen Newby. With only one junior and no sophomores, the team will rely heavily on its freshman and eighth graders who make up over half of the team.
“We’re young, and we have a lot to learn,” Blair said of his team.
However, Blair admits that he also has a lot to learn this season, about both the sport and the area players and teams, including his own.
Blair was the athletic director for LaRue County High School from 1995-1996 and coached the freshman baseball team for nine years. He was also an assistant varsity baseball coach during which time the team won regionals, sectionals and went to the final four in the state tournament. It was during his time as athletic director that Blair coached his first and only girls’ softball game outside of Little League while subbing in for the coach.
Because of Blair’s lack of softball knowledge, assistant coach Dennis Hawkins becomes an even more important asset to the team this season. Blair said he is very thankful to have Hawkins on his staff because he has a wealth of knowledge about the other teams and players in the region, as well as about the Lady Panthers and the game of softball itself. “He’s going to be a very valuable resource for me,” he said. “He puts in so much effort for these girls… Carroll County is lucky to have someone so dedicated to the program.”
Blair taught history and social studies at LaRue before moving on to teach five years at Bullitt East High School where he was also the speech and debate coach, but did not coach baseball. He and his family moved to Carroll County after his wife was transferred to a job in Cincinnati. He is currently teaching history and social studies at CCHS and will be the school’s speech and debate coach.
As far as this year’s schedule, Blair said he tried to “beef it up,” including match-ups with Shelby County and Conner, two teams he does not think Carroll County ever plays normally. “I want to go against the best. The way you make yourself better is against the best,” he said. “… I expect us to take a few knocks early, but I think we’ll get better quickly. We’re working hard to get our young girls up to where they need to be.”
The Lady Panthers open the season at 6 p.m. March 22 with a home game against Henry County in a re-match of last season’s district tournament.