Douglas softball looks to figure things out as the new season progresses
The Douglas High School softball team is feeling things out to start the 2020 campaign.
After going 23-9-2 in 2019, the Tigers lost a ton of experience to seniors who graduated following last season.
Now, Douglas and head coach John Glover are looking to completely pin down a lineup as the Tigers turn to varsity newcomers for production.
Returning to the Douglas dugout this season was lone senior Kendal Moore along with juniors Alyonna Pretty On Top, Mehalia Pete and sophomore Ryleigh Blaire.
“I don’t really know what to expect,” said Glover. “I don’t know if I’ve ever had a team that’s this inexperienced. … It’s wide open and the great part is they’re competing every day.”
Finding hurlers in the circle
After departing all three of their varsity starting pitchers, the Tigers are tasked with bringing up the next wave through the ranks.
As a team, Douglas had a 2.14 ERA last season but now Glover and company will look to some new faces to try and keep opponent’s off the scoreboard.
McKenzie Willis and Aspen Tollman are likely to be Douglas’ main two weapons in the circle this season.
Both Willis and Tollman appeared in two games over the opening weekend slate for Douglas, finding some rhythm in the early going.
Glover said Crystal Bennett will also compete for some innings in the circle.
“We don’t have an inning back in the circle, so it’s going to be interesting,” said Glover.
Slowing down opponents in the field
Glover fully expects to lean on his four-year varsity senior in Kendal Moore, who he added has been with the team longer than the coaching staff.
Moore is expected to play second base or outfield, depending on the day.
“We will lean on her, especially the younger girls, to show us some leadership,” said Glover.
Another player the Tigers will expect to carry some weight will be Blaire, who returns as the team’s backstop.
Blaire, a sophomore, hit for a .309 batting average last season while driving in 15 runs along with three doubles and three homers.
“We don’t have a lot of innings that have been on the varsity field,” said Glover, “so it’s going to be a learning experience for us here.”
Pete will be the target at first base to open up the season after getting 20 varsity at-bats last season, including a home run.
Willis will join Pete in sharing duties at first.
At shortstop will be Eva McNinch and Bennett while Brooke Walter and Emma Glover will hold down the hot corner at third.
“There’s no other way than to try and play some games early and see what we got,” Glover said.
Douglas will also be without Taylynn Kizer, who appeared in 17 games last season as a junior, but is headed to play collegiate basketball in the winter.
That same youth extends into the outfield where Glover says the Tigers could feature any combination of five players out in the grass.
Ashley Delaney, Emma Stagliano, Pretty On Top, Anna Northcutt and Moore will be tasked with keeping long fly balls in their range.
“We will have to figure out who’s going to be out there,” Glover said.
The head coach said Douglas’ priority is growing in every aspect of the game while the Tigers’ younger players get up to speed at the varsity level.
Glover admitted the Northern Region is highly talented this season and while Douglas’ goal is always to break into the postseason, the Tigers are going to have their work cut out for them on a nightly basis.
“There’s not a day we can take off,” Glover said.