The Lady Raiders made progress with young talent in 2012 — the first season for coach Kelley Barton — as they won 11 games to improve on the previous year’s victory total by eight.
This year, both Barton and her players have a lot more experience and confidence entering the season.
“I do feel very confident, and I am excited,” Barton said. “We do feel like we will be very strong this year. We have some young players who are filling some big roles.”
After graduating one senior — catcher Tavi Parris — from last year’s team, the Lady Raiders’ roster will remain stocked with underclassmen, with Kara Headrick and Chaya Drury the only seniors. Headrick, a pitcher, returns to the team after taking a year away from the diamond, while Drury will anchor third.
Joining Headrick in the rotation will be sophomore Sydney Covington, the lone freshman selected to last year’s all-area team after batting .397 with a .461 on-base percentage. She’ll lead off the lineup at the plate.
A starter at second to begin last season, Covington became the team’s No. 1 pitcher.
“Their experience will help out,” Barton said of the combination of Covington and Headrick in the circle. “Sydney stepped out there as a freshman and became our go-to pitcher, and Kara had done a good job in the past. They are a good combination. I think they are about the same. They throw about the same speed. Kara is more of a finesse pitcher with her movement.”
At the plate, Covington, Drury and junior Brooke Hasty will carry the load for the team early. Barton said Hasty is the main power hitter and will move behind the plate this season after playing first base as a sophomore.
The biggest difference for the Lady Raiders will likely be their attitude. Barton said last season the team was hoping to win games.
This year, they expect to win games, even in Region 7-4A, whose teams have often fared well on a statewide level.
“One thing I can say about our girls is that they are all competitors,” Barton said. “I think they do a good job and give 100 percent effort. We are still young, so in the next couple of years we are going to surprise some people.”