With only one senior on the 2012 squad, the Tyler Consolidated Lady Knight softball team finds themselves in a rebuilding frame of mind this season, albeit with experience.
"There are some big holes to be filled with the graduation of four of our starters from last year's squad," said head coach of the Silver Ladies, Charlene Galluzzo. "Heather Suter, an LKC honorable mention infielder and Class AA honorable mention all-stater, will be missed from the pitching rotation and infield slots she covered for us last season. Also missing from this year's line-up are Amanda Goodfellow, a steady first baseman and solid contact hitter and the leadership and experience of Emily Moore and Mallory Hammond in the outfield."
"So we're placing some heavy responsibilities on our only senior, Jennifer Yost. She was named LKC honorable mention in 2011 and will start at third base for us this year. When she isn't roaming the hot corner, she will be in the outfield and can pick up catching duties if necessary."
Four juniors will figure into the starting mix for the Lady Knights, all returners to the squad: Martina Parrish, who will anchor first base; Torrye Cline, who collected second team LKC and first team OVAC honors as well as All-State honorable mention recognition, will start at short stop or third base; Taylor Clem, an LKC honorable mention player at second; and Tayler Vossen who is battling for a starting job in the outfield. Clem's versatility will have her also seeing time at other slots in the infield to shore up the defense, and Vossen will be an asset with her bat as a pinch hitter if not in the defensive line-up.
Cline will lead the pitching rotation for the Silver and Black, rounded out by the sophomore dynamic duo of Devinn and Jasmine Moore. The Moore's will split their time between the outfield, the pitching circle and first base.
In fact, the super sophomores on this team are likely to emerge as a key factor in balancing out the defense for the team. Megan Carpenter returns in charge of center field with Myah Charkawi the starting catcher who can also be plugged in as a utility infielder or outfielder.
Alex Bubenchik will be the starting short stop, but can also be counted on in a utility capacity in the infield and will see time behind the plate as well. Kali Mead will factor into the line-up with her strong contact hitting, and will see time in the out field.
Sophomore Shandi Long will aide the team with her strong bat in a designated hitter or pinch-hitting role, and along with Bailey Smith will find her spot defensively in the outfield as their skills develop.
Only three new players join the team this season: junior Carle Stewart, and freshmen Kaycee Bandaries and Lilli Orr.
"Stewart is a left hander and is working hard to sharpen her skills on the field and at the plate," the coach said. The freshmen are concentrating their efforts on developing their skills and learning the fundamentals of the game."
A balanced LKC and OVAC conference schedule should prove to be a challenge for this young Lady Knight squad. Perennial power-house teams from Ritchie County, St. Marys, Magnolia and River will test the mettle of the team throughout the season.
"We'll focus on the fundamentals and prepare them for a tough conference and post season run," Galluzzo said.
"With six returning starters from last year, I feel we have a solid nucleus to build on."
The Lady Knights will see action this week on Wednesday at Parkersburg Catholic and on Thursday at home when they host Ritchie County.