Who will fill those shoes? Lady Rebels have building to do
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Every team has rebuilding to do as a new season begins and the loss of the last year’s seniors sinks in on the field.
The Maryville softball team has a little more rebuilding to do than most just as its off-season building program hit a hiccup.
The Lady Rebels, coming off a 2011 state tourney appearance and last season’s state sectional appearance, were eyeing the completion of a home field of their own after seasons spent playing at Parks & Rec facilities.
But the project will be another year away before it’s ready for play and the Maryville players will spend one more season putting up and taking down their collapsible outfield fence before and after each game at Everett Park.
“We had a scrimmage there the other night and they were all like, ‘Oh we have to put this up again,’” Maryville coach David Allen told The Daily Times.
But construction aside, rebuilding is a bit more noticeable this season for Maryville after the Lady Rebels sent so many players into the college ranks.
Bry Blanco’s on the field for Georgia, Allison Barbee is striking out batters for Southern Wesleyan and Jessica Connatser is roaming the outfield at Milligan as the trio have all found starting spots as freshman.
“Last year it was very pat because we had so many of those juniors coming back for their senior season,” Allen said.
“This year it's been fun. We have lots of competition going on and girls working hard trying to win spots. In our infield, the only one returning is really Taylor Hodge. I’ve got a senior and five sophomores that we’re interchanging, and it’s been fun watching them compete to try and win those spots.
“We lost a lot, but I look at who we have returning we have four or five with a lot of varsity experience.”
The stalwarts are Hodge at first, Haley Hilliard at catcher, designated player Lindsey Watson and Tennessee Temple signee Sara Beth Reeves.
Hilliard has a three-year career average topping .400 and after three home runs last season is the power hitter on the team.
Hodge is over .380 as the junior is set to commence her third season at first but this time as the infield veteran. Watson has been seen mainly at the plate but the slapper has added some power to her game as well as improving an already solid base-running speed.
The circle won’t be full of new faces either. Maddie Ogle is back for her junior season and Mikale Clendenen finally has a healthy spring after a promising jv season as a freshman has been put on hold with the varsity due to injuries.
“People kept asking me what we’re going to do now that you’ve lost Allison. A couple weeks ago I just went and looked. Maddie Ogle pitched 27 varsity games even behind Allison. She threw against Gibbs, who went on to the AA title, and gave up one earned run. She threw 142 innings and struck out 110, Allen said. “Mikale Clendenen’s had a bunch of injuries the last two years, but has been throwing really well this spring I’m excited to see what these girls can do, see who will be the ace, see who we can ride.”