By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
A “fountain of youth” will take the field for Johnson County in 2018. That’s the best way to describe the Lady Longhorns softball team with only one senior on the squad.
Angela Blevins returns for her second season as head coach with reason to be optimistic yet concerned. The team has a roster of talented underclassmen, but only 13 players will suit
“We would like to have a few more players, but I see a lot of potential in this group,” said Blevins. “We have some really good returning sophomore players that are solid and a good senior leader. Those sophomores have gained valuable experience in other sports starting at the varsity level, so I don’t look at them as sophomores. We are young on paper, but we’ve gained a lot of experience off the diamond. I don’t expect them to play like sophomores. I’m looking for that group to play like juniors. We’ll also throw two freshmen in the starting lineup and a junior. I believe our team will get better with age as the season goes along.”
Who’s on first?
All conference pitcher Courtney Brooks is back after hitting .318 last season. She is expected to see plenty of action on the mound and will play first base when not on the
Junior Lindsey Wills had a great season in 2017 and will move over to second base from her catching position.
“Courtney will be a good leader for many of our younger players,” said Blevins. We expect a lot of good things from her. Lindsey got an opportunity to play last year, and she played so well we couldn’t take her off the field. We’re expecting good things from both of them.”
The expectations are also high for rising sophomore Hannah Brooks.
She homered twice in the jamboree on Tuesday and was one of the league’s most feared hitters last season. She’ll split time between the mound, first and third base.
“Hannah has worked hard to improve over the offseason in the weight room and on the field,” said Blevins. “I’m very happy for her because she just keeps getting better. She will definitely be one of the league’s top players.”
Natalie Winters will hold down the corners in the infield playing third or fast base depending on who is pitching. She will also see time behind the plate and is expected to be one of the team’s top hitters.
Two talented freshmen have earned the right to be in the thick of things.
Emmy Miller will handle the catching duties and could see some action at third base. Maddie Edington will play shortstop and bat in the third position with Miller hitting fifth. Blevins is confident about their abilities.
“We’re expecting Emmy and Maddie to play at a higher level and not as freshmen,” added Blevins. Both of
them can play multiple positions.”
The outfield will consist of Bella Miller in left, Abby Cornett in center and Alexis Hendley in right. Cassidy Lakatos, Tiffany Price, Jenna Horner and Diamond Dibble will round out the roster and compete for playing time.
“Abby has a lot of speed in the outfield, so we’ll move her to center,” said Blevins. “Bella has worked hard on her outfield skills and can also play short. Alexis is another one who can play in the outfield or infield.”
“I can see this team getting better as the season goes on,” said Blevins. “We play in a very tough conference with a lot of good teams. Elizabethton is very talented, and so is Unicoi County. I’m expecting Sullivan East, Sullivan South and Sullivan Central to all have good teams. Happy Valley has some good players as well. I think we can be in that mix too.”