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Lady Vols have new faces, similar goal

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By The Staff

KERSHAW – The Andrew Jackson Lady Volunteers have some new faces this softball season, but they hope for similar results this spring.Gone are five seniors who helped the Lady Vols win back-to-back state championships en route to a dazzling 70-7 record. That quality AJ quintet was stellar, but the Lady Vols return five key starters along with a solid nucleus which has the 2008 team upbeat.In softball, it starts with pitching. Sophomore Chelsea Vincent and junior Tristan Faile have worked hard in the off-season to bolster the AJ staff.Faile, who shared the Coaches Award with Lauren Kirk, reaped all-region and all-state honors last season.“This pair should be solid and keep the Lady Vols in every game,” AJ coach Steve Middleton said.Tristan Faile will be at shortstop when Vincent is pitching and senior Tessa Faile when Tristan Faile is on the mound.Tristan Faile, an all-state candidate, is expected to lead the Lady Vols’ offense. She has moved to the No. 3 spot in the AJ battling order to drive in runs.Tessa Faile, who won the team’s Hustle Award and all-region honors, should bat clean-up and challenge Tristan Faile for the team RBI lead.Senior Caroline Phillips, an all-region selection last season, will handle third base and should bat fifth. She hopes to improve on her 21 runs batted in of a year ago.Kirk, a junior, moves to second base and should be the mainstay on defense. On offense, she moves to lead-off, a position coach Middleton hopes she adapts to this season.“Lauren is our catalyst and has worked hard,” Middleton said. “I feel she will step up her game and help lead this team.”Juniors Natalie Dove and Emily Stover will be at first base.Dove will probably see more action, but Stover could be the designated hitter and also see time in the AJ outfield.“Both players have improved on offense,” Middleton said.Juniors Caryn Truesdale and Casey Hammond will patrol right and left field, respectively.“Those two players along with Tessa Faile when Chelsea Vincent pitches could give the Lady Vols the best outfield in the state,” Middleton said. “Caryn and Casey’s bats will figure in offensively and could determine the effectiveness of our offense.”Sophomore Maygen Ray will receive time in left field, while freshmen Dayne Ware, Kayla Starnes and seventh-grader Kory Ballard will add depth after jayvee ball.Eighth grader Leah Kennington will be the team’s pinch runner while learning the game, Middleton said. She keeps busy in the spring, competing on the jayvee soccer team.The Lady Vols, who have won nine consecutive region titles and five straight district titles will be challenged by Buford and Cheraw, a pair of teams who have the talent to take the region title.Central of Pageland could also figure in the mix. All four teams are ranked in Class AA softball.“We are 7-2 right now, so I’m pleased, but we need to continue to get better at the plate,” Middleton said.Andrew Jackson goes to Summerville to compete in the Azaela Classic next week and will play six of its final seven games at the Lady Vols’ field.