By Rick Sheek
Bill Doss, Hampton’s first-year softball coach, is impressed with the lineup he has inherited.
“We’ve got a young team, but they seem real athletic,” Doss said at the Carter County Jamboree earlier this week. “They’re working hard. I think by the end of the year the dividends will pay off for us.”
The Lady Bulldogs (10- 11) were eliminated in the play-in game of the District 1-A tournament a year ago.
Back to anchor the team are senior pitcher Molly Crabtree and junior catcher Danielle Guinn.
“Molly is real strong on the mound for us,” Doss said. “We’ve got a real strong catcher in Danielle Guinn. They’ll probably lead our team.”
The majority of this Hampton bunch will apparently be a group of newcomers.
“We’ve got some young freshmen this year,” Doss said, “that I think will step up and help our varsity squad.”
Freshman Carmen Calderon is penciled in at shortstop.
“She’s a real athlete,” Doss said. “I think she’ll step up and really help the squad, and she brings a lot of speed to the game for us. That’s what we’ve been needing.”
A returning veteran is junior third baseman Haylee Sloan.
“I think she’ll be a good anchor for us,” Doss said. “A good power hitter.”
At second base will be either senior Haley Trusler or junior Sadie Fletcher.
“Second base is kind of still up for grabs on us,” Doss said. “We’re using a lot of this to weed out what we want for our varsity. We’re still in a decisive learning process.”
The first basemen are junior Taylor Berry and sophomore Ivy Whickuzer.
“I think we’re going to be in the thick of things,” Doss said. “I really do. We’ve got some talent.
“It’s a little raw, but I think by the end of the year we’ll be seasoned enough to give everybody a run.”
Freshman Kaila Stone is in center field.
“She’s probably, I think, one of the best,” Doss said.
Maggie Burchett, a sophomore, is in right field. She will also see time at catcher.
“I think a lot of it is going to be our hitting,” Doss said. “We’re going to be a good hitting team. We’ve been focusing on that a lot.
“We’ve changed the way they think about hitting. So I think in the long run, by the end of year, we’ll be a lot better hitting team than we were.”
In left field is Fletcher or senior Corinna Harrell.s
“It’s according to how my seniors’ health is,” Doss said. “We had one get popped the other day at Winged Deer.”
With a changing of the guard down the road in Stoney Creek, there is some question about if that program will continue to rule the Watauga Valley Conference roost.
“They’ve got a good program there,” Doss said. “You can’t take anything away from Unaka, but anytime you make a coaching change there’s always adjustments to be made.”
The coach said he is increasing the amount of games on his schedule to take this team to the next level.
“You’ve got to put them on the field,” Doss said, “to get any better.”