The 2015 Louisiana Lady Bulldogs softball team is looking to go to the district championship game for the third year in a row.
The Lady Bulldogs won the district crown in 2013, but just missed it last year.
“Coming up one run short last year still stings,” said Head Coach Bill Capps. “I feel we have the capability to score more runs, so hopefully that will take us on another post-season run this year.”
But this year they will have to do it without star pitcher Kaitlyn VanHooser, who graduated with a scholarship to play at Lindenwood University.
“We will be looking to senior Taylor Cunningham, junior Molly Ross, and freshman Maria Gutierrez to step in and throw for us,” Capps said. “Taylor and Molly had very limited varsity pitching last year, so this will very much be a learn on the job experience. These three all have extensive travel ball experience and have been pitching this summer to prepare.”
Returning starters from last year’s squad include junior catcher Samantha Henderson, who has become a good hitter.
Sophomore Raelee Burse will once again play third base. Cunningham will patrol the outfiled when she’s not pitching. Ross will bring her hot bat back and play shortshop this year. Senior Macie Crane will play first base and the outfield.
Players Capps is looking at to step up and fill roles on the team include freshmen Autumn Castagna at second base and Maria Gutierrez at first base.
“We are also looking for contributions from Seniors Katie Blackwell (secondbase-outfield) and Alicia Johnson,” on the infield.
Others expected to see action are junior first baseman Ally Cross and sophomore Carly Maschmeier in the outfield and at designated hitter. Sophomore Janel Lindsay will see playing time at shortstop and in the outfield.
“We will be shifting players around quite a bit defensively based on who is pitching,” Capps said.
For offense, Ross, Burse and Henderson all hit over .300 last year.
“We will be counting on those three to continue to hit the ball well,” Capps said.
Capps has built the program the last two years, but will have a tough time winning the Clarence Cannon Confernce (CCC) championship.
“The CCC is very tough in softball. Last year we finished with a 4-4 conference record along with a couple other schools” and 13-11 overall, Capps added.
“We know Centralia and Highland will be strong again, but overall, there isn’t an easy opponent in the conference. To be competitive, we will need to keep fielding mistakes to a minimum.
“I feel that we have a lineup capable of putting runs on the board this year but if we don’t back up our pitchers it won’t really matter. Every team in the conference will hurt you if you make mistakes.
“Our conference is loaded with softball talent. Centralia, Palmyra, and Highland will continue to be difficult teams. Macon has a great pitcher and has improved tremendously over the past few seasons,” Capps said. “Brookfield, South Shelby, and Monroe City are coming off of down seasons and will be looking to move up in the conference standings.”