University High Softball Coach Keith Jeffers is use to making deep postseason runs with his Lady Buccaneers, but this year, only time will tell if they will be playing deep into May or not.
“It’s not a young team, but it’s a new team,” Jeffers said. “The team is made of a lot of young players, but also new players that haven’t played fo a few years. Our goal is to win the conference and district, but it will take time to get this team on the right page.”
The Lady Bucs have four returning starters from a team that won the conference, district and regional championships last season, but they were defeated by Midway in a home sub-state contest. Ari Ramsaran (shortstop), Miranda Honeycutt (centerfield) and Frankie Cradic (first base) all saw valuable time last season as juniors and they will be expected to be key players in a young lineup.
Also returning will be junior pitcher Kensington Daily, who will also see time at third base. Freshman Jenna Davis will also see time in the circle for the Lady Bucs, both have similar pitches, but each has her own style.
“I think they’re going to get better as the year goes along,” Jeffers said. “They are similar in that they have multiple pitches that they can throw and mix them up.”
Davis will see time in third base or centerfield when she isn’t in the circle.
At the plate, the Lady Bucs will need their upperclassmen to carry the way.
“We will need the seniors and juniors to swing well,” he said. “And hopefully the younger girls will follow suit and be able to hit the ball when we need to for us to be successful.”
Jeffers has a lineup that will be shifted on an at-need basis, but for now, he said that Keleigh Engle — a senior that is playing her first year of softball for the school — will play on second base and in the outfield. Another senior is Alayna Smith that will see time in left field. Freshman Ciara Kennedy will also see time at second base, while Sydney Trosin and Ryleigh Owen will split time behind the plate, along with Honeycutt.
The Lady Bucs spent time in Myrtle Beach last week and played eight contests. They were able to grab a couple of wins in the tournament and Jeffers is hoping those will give his girls confidence heading into the season.
But they won’t have much time to figure things out as they will play at North Greene on Monday, host Unaka on Tuesday and finish the week off by traveling to South Greene on Thursday and playing in the NFS Tournament in Unicoi this weekend.