Lady Cougars Tie in Opener with Trumann
The Rector Lady Cougars opened the 2013 softball season on the road at Trumann, facing the Lady Wildcats this past Thursday. The early season contest ended in a 10-10 tie, as darkness fell upon the Trumann field and with no lighting in place at the field.
Courtney Shepard hit an RBI single to give Rector the lead, as the Lady Cougars scored three runs in the top of the seventh to take a 10-9 advantage over the Lady Wildcats. Trumann scored one run in the home half of the inning to tie the game at 10 each before play was halted.
Anna Blackshare paced Rector with a 3-4 and 2 RBI outing. Brittany Fair hit two singles and drove in a run. Also hitting safely for Rector were Kelly Fowler with a pair of singles, Lindsey Ford with an RBI double, Colby Lynch with an RBI double, Kendal Gunn with an RBI single and Kaitlyn Essman with a single.
Rector was on the road again Tuesday afternoon, visiting Riverside for an early 2A-3 meeting.
The Lady Cougars return eight starters from last year's 24-6 state quarterfinal team.
"Our expectations are very high," coach Louis Ernest said. "Our conference sent three teams to the state quarterfinals last season and one, BIC, to the state final. We feel like we should be right there in the hunt again this season."
Senior Kelly Fowler returns to the circle for Rector after an All-State season in 2012. She will pitch the bulk of the outings for Ernest and company, and continue her role as a leader.
"She's been huge for us," Ernest said. "She's a good, consistent pitcher and is also one of our better hitters."
Fellow senior Kaitlyn Essman missed half of last season with an injury, but will once again handle duties behind the plate at catcher.
"Kaitlyn means a lot to this team," Ernest said. "We struggled when she was hurt last season. She's also a good hitter and one of our leaders."
Tarryn Tracy returns at first base, a position at which she has started the past three seasons.
"She's a strong hitter and is solid in the field," Ernest said.
Junior Lindsey Ford returns at second base, shoring up the middle.
"She's one of the best defensive players in our conference and is also one of our best hitters," Ernest said.
Sophomores Anna Blackshare, third base, and Kendal Gunn, shortstop, round out a talented infield.
"Anna and Kendal are quick and athletic in the field and can swing the bat well," Ernest said. "Those three (Gunn, Blackshare and Ford) were All-Conference last year and there's not a doubt in my mind that they should be again this year."
Johnna Lopez, Courtney Shepard and Brittany Fair are the starting outfielders for the Lady Cougars.
"We try to keep everything on the ground, but if we can't, I know we can count on Johnna, Courtney and Brittany to make plays for us. All three of them are good hitters, too. That's a strong group of outfielders."
Sophomore Lenae Haley, junior Cheyenne Ellis and freshmen Colby Lynch and Tori Hill will also be in the mix.
"Those four are good enough to start and will be able to come in at a moment's notice and make an impact in a game," Ernest said. "They give us more options than we've had in the past. They can play right now."