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Batter, batter, swing!

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Area teams prepare for start of season

By Ryan Naus

As winter slowly turns to spring, Grant County and Williamstown’s baseball and softball teams are eager to start their seasons.

The Braves baseball team is coming off of back-to-back district championships and the three other teams are looking to compete for district championhips, but won’t know where they are at until they take the field against an opponent.

The Braves have a new coach, Darrick Lee, but return a majority of their roster from last year, as only three seniors graduated.

Even though they have a solid core returning, Lee wants his players to remember that a third straight district championship isn’t a sure thing.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” Lee said. “I know a lot of these guys have been on two straight district championship teams. Simon Kenton is looking to knock us off, Williamstown would love to beat us, being our cross-town rival, and Walton-Verona has a pretty good team this year. But we know what it will take to get there.”

The Braves return three pitchers with varsity experience in senior Dillon Pelfrey and juniors Aaron Goe and Jordan Cummins.

“We’re looking for a fourth quality starter, but our starting three pitchers should carry us quite a long way,” Lee said.

The Braves won’t hold any scrimmages before they start their season by hosting Bishop Brossart on March 22.

Williamstown’s baseball team is waiting to improve on last season, when they finished fourth in the district during the regular season.

“I think we’re ready,” coach Aaron Biddle said. “We’ve had a lot of players play in fall leagues to get more experience and guys have worked hard in the off-season. We’ve got a ton of dedicated players. I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far.”

Last season, the Demons relied on younger pitchers and Biddle believes that last year’s experiences can only help.

“It’s been nice not having to worry about pitching,” Biddle said. “We’ve been focusing on hitting because last year we would lose games by one run. Having Joel Price back is tremendous. We’ve been taking good care of their arms and the experience that Isaac Alger got last year will make us a better team this year.”

Biddle is confident that his team will surprise people this year and knows that his players want to prove themselves.

“We’ve got six seniors that have all played multiple years,” Biddle said. “We’ll be a lot older than we were last year. I think that maturity will help us in close games. We’re ready to get out there and show what we can do. We’re confident and focused.”

The Demons will scrimmage Pendleton County at home on March 18 before starting their season at Holmes on March 22.

The schools’ softball teams are dealing with a change made this year by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, who moved the pitcher’s mound back from 40 feet to 43 feet.

GCHS coach Ott Reed believes that his main pitcher, Katelyn Roy, will not be affected by the change.

“From what I’ve seen, she’s probably gained two or three miles per hour,” Reed said. “She’s learning to locate them better. She still needs to work on her changeup. We’ve got some pitchers that are pushing her this year and that’s making her better.”

Reed saw a change in his players when they were able to get some time on their field last week.

“We were outside for four days last week and the final two days, I noticed the light came on for the girls,” Reed said. “Until you get out there on the grass and the ball is on the dirt or the outfielders get to catch a real fly ball, you can’t really visualize your team. But we’ve made a concerted effort to condition them this year and that will be a strong point.”

The Lady Braves will scrimmage at Louisville Ballard, the number two team in the state, on March 19.

“When you get to see good competition, it will help,” Reed said. “I don’t put any emphasis on winning scrimmages. We’ll use all 16 players. This is still a young bunch.”

The Lady Braves season will start March 24 when they play at Notre Dame.

Williamstown’s softball team will rely on sophomore Emma Harris to replace starting pitcher Amanda Goodrich, who graduated.

“Emma’s throwing well,” coach T.J. West said. “She’s a little tender, but we’ve been throwing every day. I think she’ll be well prepared. We have another young pitcher in Katie Fryman that we’ll use, so we don’t use Emma every game.”

West likes the versatility that his team is showing in the preseason.

“What I see different this year is that we can move players to several different positions and I feel comfortable with them playing there,” West said. “The girls are easy to coach.”

The Lady Demons will scrimmage at Pendleton County on March 20 and start the regular season with a double-header at Trimble County on March 22.

“We’re as ready as we can be,” West said. “Our girls are pretty loose and excited. I’m ready to go and I think they’re ready to go.”

 

Opening Games:

• Williamstown Demons at Holmes - March 22

• Grant Braves vs. Bishop Brossart (home) - March 22

• Williamstown Lady Demons at Trimble - March 22

• Lady Braves at Notre Dame - March 24