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Lady Vols hope for better finish on 2014 AJ softball

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Softball preview

By The Staff

 

KERSHAW – The Andrew Jackson High Lady Vols saw a great 2013 softball season come to a bitter close when they were eliminated by county and Region IV-AA rival Buford in the District 4 final last spring.

AJ, a 21-7 finisher, won the Region IV-AA championship en route to the playoffs.

The AJ girls’ 2014 goals are simple – win the district  and state title.

Veteran AJ coach Steve Middleton said he knows each team will bring its “A” game when facing the Lady Vols.

“If we don’t come to play, we’re going to lose,” Middleton said. “Region IV is the toughest in the state with two teams in the top five. Though our goals are lofty, we have to figure out a way to play well at the end and not peak out at the first of April, which we have done the last two seasons.”

The Lady Vols are already starting out of a hole with the loss of senior standout Lauren Rowell to a season-ending ankle injury.

The Lady Vols will have junior ace Hannah Cobb, an 11-game winner last season.

She will be backed by the freshman trio of  Haley Vincent, Lindsey Robinson and Morgan Hendrix – a young group, but all with good arms.

Shortstop will be handled by all-state selection Haley Faulkenberry, who had four home runs to go with 34 runs scored and 24 RBIs last season.

Third base will be handled by talented freshman Kinsley Adams, who will bat in the clean-up hole.

Second base will be platooned by juniors Morgan Bailey and Angela Sims, both who are expected to be better this season.

Sophomore Rilee Sims will see also see action at second base.

First base will be handled by Sims, junior Savannah McKittrick and Cobb when not pitching. Cobb hopes to be back to her .500 form of 2013.

Outfield will have junior Katlyn Starnes in left field, freshman Kaitlyn Holden in center and junior T.G. McCowan in right field. Two of these players have been switched to left-handed slappers to bolster the bottom of the AJ lineup.

Junior Natalie Robertson and McKittrick will see some duty in right field. Eighth grader Kinsley Killough and Bailey will platoon with the catching duties.

Eighth graders Savannah Small and Morgan Eason could see time on the varsity as well as freshman Kinsley Young.

Middleton’s staff will include veteran Tripp Cobb, Kevin Sims, Ben Eason and newcomer Ashley Williams.

“At AJ all of our coaches help each team and that will continue to be the case,” Middleton said. “We want the girls and coaches to know and trust each other.

“Also, our desire to be better must improve,” he said. “No one seems to want to be a leader at this time but hopefully someone will develop.

“Once again I stress if we start out slow, that’s fine, but we will strive to be playing our best at the end of April,” Middleton said.

The Lady Vols, who hosted Hartsville earlier this week, open region play the way the 2013 season ended Friday night at Buford.

“How ironic,” Middleton said.