By Tim Chambers
Sometimes rebuilding can result in reloading when you lose the core group from your championship team from a year ago. The Longhorns won the league tournament last year, but several of those players are now a part of the high school team as incoming freshmen.
It doesn’t appear to have slowed down the middle school Lady Longhorns who are currently 2-0 in the young season.
Head coach Greg Reece begins his ninth year at the helm and appears to have everything in order.
His team defeated Colonial Heights 14-3 to open the season and Bluff City 5-3, both on the road.
He currently has 19 players on the roster with some younger players playing important roles. Four to five seventh graders will share the varsity load in addition to some talented eighth graders.
“We’re trying to work and find everyone’s skill level,” said Reece. “Some will play varsity and others on the JV. We have a good non-conference schedule that includes Mary Hughes, Vance, T. A. Dugger and Sullivan North in addition to Colonial Heights and Bluff City. We will also play in a tournament at Grandview on March 23-25 and we’re the defending champions. The JV plays on April 7-8 in one at Elizabethton High School. We definitely have a lot of good softball games scheduled.”
Pitching is not an issue for the Lady Longhorns.
Deanna Younce, Hailey Rider and Hailie Reece will all see action in that order.
The strong suit on the team will be the catching of Emmy Miller.
“She is exceptional behind the plate and calls all the pitches,” added Reece. She is also one of our better hitters that we depend on.”
Jayla Gregg and Rider will serve as her backups. Sydni Potter has the first base role with Faith Walsh getting the lock at second base. Maddi Edington will strengthen the infield at shortstop with Rider and Younce to play third, depending on which one is pitching.
The outfield will consist of Paige Knight, Jena Horner, Edington, Lakatos, Gregg, Kiyasha Clemmons and Hailie Reece.
Both Reece and Lakatos are two utility players that can help at various spots on the team. Other seventh graders are expected to be in the mix.
“We have a lot of kids that can play different places,” added Reece. “That is one of our strengths that we have this year.”
On Friday they defeated Bluff City in a nail-biter 5-3.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.