There’s a new coaching staff, but Elizabethton’s softball program appears set to continue its success.
LeAnne Click takes over for Kenny Hardin, who spent the better part of the last decade as the Lady Cyclones’ skipper.
With a team that has been competitive with the best teams in the area, winning over 30 games the previous three seasons, Click hopes to pick up where Hardin left off.
“I’m going to do everything I can to keep it on the same path and the same level its been for the past five, six, seven years.” Click said last week.
Elizabethton opens its regular season Tuesday against University High, picking up from a 33-9 campaign with an appearance in the region semifinals. The Lady Cyclones replace All-State slugger Erin Kiser, standout fielder Kelsey Simmons and pitcher Amanda Schultz, among others, with a roster that includes three seniors, and an array of juniors and sophomores.
“We’ve only got three seniors, all kinds of juniors and sophomores that will be starting and we have three freshmen,” said Click. “We have a lot of underclassmen that will definitely help us out.”
Each of the three seniors will start for the team.
Abby Stephenson will roam first base, with Casey Jones playing left field and Emily Carr in right.
Junior starters include Reazyn DeMoss at shortstop, Sophie Bremer at second base, Ashleigh Dykes in centerfield and Emily Dugger at the designated hitter slot.
On the mound, Elizabethton will be led by sophomore Lindsey Cunningham, who will pitch to classmate Caley Hodge behind the mound. A third sophomore, Summer Reece, will start at third base.
“I’m real excited,” said Click. “With Lindsey pitching and Caley behind the plate, we’ve got a great duo — and that’s a lot of fastpitch, the pitching and the catching — so if we can put the bat on the ball, we’ll be just fine.”
Other players will contribute to the Elizabethton cause including junior pitcher Emily Thorton, sophomores Whitney Guinn, Danielle Loving, Sara Bradley and Chesnee Lawson, with freshmen Macy Elliott, Megan Bowers and Destiny Pouirox seeing roles on the squad.
Kiser, who blasted a record number of home runs over her career at Elizabethton, left a vacancy in the power hitting department, but Click says Hodge, DeMoss and Dykes have stepped right into the roles as well as Dugger.
A key to the Lady Cyclones offensively will be speed around the bases to jump-start the short game.
“I’m really impressed with everything we’ve done,” Click said. “We played four games (last Saturday) and we’ve done really well defensively. Our hitting is going to come.
“We’re a hitting team so we’ll do fine with that. Everything’s going strong. … I think, all-in-all, we’ll definitely be a contender this year.”
Brandon Nave and Evie Lafolette are the team’s assistants with Click.
Following Tuesday’s opener, the Lady Cyclones host Chuckey-Doak Thursday and begin conference play Tuesday, March 20 at Happy Valley.