By Tim Chambers
For the first time in nearly two decades the Lady Longhorns will have a new head softball coach. And if the players can duplicate her performance on the diamond then success will come in droves.
Angela Blevins was a four-year starter at IUP University where she collected 219 hits, 133 runs and played a school record 11 games in her career.
She was tabbed All-Conference in all four seasons and recently was inducted into IUP’s Sports Hall of Fame after being named a regional All-American for three seasons.
She is now faced with trying to raise the bar higher in a league that features perennial powerhouses Unicoi County and Elizabethton. Blevins knows her kids have to be on top of their game to compete in a conference filled with heavyweights.
“I like the makeup of our team because we’ve got several players who are very versatile,” said Blevins. “It’s making my decision hard trying to figure out what clicks for us. It’s a great position to be in because we have several kids who could become great players. Our lineup could change on any given day. Some could be used as utility players.”
A senior trio of three-year starters will look to lead the way.
Michala Cretsinger made the All-Conference team last year after batting .383 with speed to burn in the outfield. Marley Eggers will play right field alongside her and can hit the long ball which is something the Horns need.
Eden Fenner has the stronghold on second base and will bat at the top with Cretsinger and Eggers. She has a knack of being able to get on base from her leadoff spot.
“We will definitely look to all three of them for leadership,” added Blevins. “They’ve experienced beating Unicoi last year and they played some other teams close. They know what it takes to beat good teams. We’re hoping they help bring our younger players along.”
The battery combination of Courtney Brooks and Brittney Brooks will get the nod at pitcher and catcher. Maddie South has played well at third. First base is up for grabs with Hannah Brooks, Margaret Morrow and Courtney Brooks leading the charge.
“Who plays first base depends a lot on who is pitching,” added Blevins. “Hannah swings a great bat and never gets cheated. We might rotate her and Courtney on the mound, as an AH and at first. I think they all will contribute.”
Brittney Brooks started as a sophomore behind the plate but will be pushed by back-up catcher Lindsey Wills.
“I have confidence when Lindsey has to move back there,” said Blevins. “She has played very well in some recent scrimmages. That’s a spot where you need good backup players. Lindsey will get some playing time and freshman Natalie Winters can fill in too. I feel good about those three.”
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