The Lady Pioneers lost five seniors from a team that finished a win away from a region tournament appearance, but they have some quality pieces returning that should help solve the puzzle of the 2017 season.
The biggest pieces might rest in the middle of the field as the Lady Pioneers will return the pitcher-catcher tandem of sophomore Kara Weems and junior Sydney Fox. They also return Reagan Miller, who will move from second to shortstop, and Lenzie Jenkins who will take over second base.
Even though they are youthful, Ashley Snyder is the only senior, David Crockett Coach Carla Weems said it is nice to have confident players returning for this season.
“Kara, Sydney, Lenzie and Reagan all had quite a bit of experience playing last season,” Carla Weems said. “I guess because they have played travel ball together for so many years, they feel like they have been there a lot.
“Maybe they don’t have much high school experience, but they’re comfortable on the field, no matter where they are.”
Weems said that one advantage that the Lady Pioneers have going into the season is that they have Kara Weems returning in the circle. As a freshman last season, Kara saw quality time, which could pay dividends down the road for her team.
“Everybody in the conference lost their number one pitcher and there was no one really in the conference that had a number two like Kara,” Weems said. “So I feel like that is an advantage that we have.”
That group will also be looking to push runs over the plate, as Fox, Jenkins, Miller and Weems will start the batting lineup for the Lady Pioneers. Fox batted lead off last year and tallied a .407 average at the plate. Miller hit .400 last season and her quality glove will also be important. Kara Weems will bat cleanup, just ahead of Jenkins, who each hit around .300 last season.
Snyder will handle left field duties for Crockett. She was injured during the Eastman Invitational early last season and was finally able to return toward the end of the year.
“She was doing a good job in left field and I think she batted just under .300, so she didn’t do a bad job with the offense,” Weems said. “So she will really help us in the outfield and will provide senior leadership.”
Sophomore Cheyenne Rasnick will plug in for Weems in the circle and will provide a nice and slow change of pace on her fastball.
Maddie Roy will spilt time at second base with Jenkins. The other half of the time will be spent in right field for either player.
Maggie Anderson was on the varsity roster last year, but didn’t receive much playing time. She will be asked to play the hot corner of third base this season and Weems said that she has earned her spot with the hard work that she has put in.
Freshman Kenzie Jerles will also get some playing time at third. Another freshman is Madison Pleasant, who will start in center field but probably won’t be swinging the bat in the line-up until later in the season.
Kat Pfiefer is another freshman that will hold down first base and will also play catcher sparingly in order to gain some experience.
With many young players, Coach Weems said that it might be an up-and-down season early, until the Lady Pioneers can find their footing.
“With four or five new positions we didn’t have an error last weekend,” she said. “But we may have 10 errors during our next game, I don’t know. So we will just have to take this season game by game.”
The Lady Pioneers will play in five tournaments, including one in Murfressboro, the Tiny Day Tournament in Greeneville, Eastman Tournament in Kingsport and tournaments in Elizabethton and Unicoi County.