Christian County softball will look a little different when it takes the field this season.
The Lady Colonels said goodbye to four seniors, two of which are playing Division I softball, and also saw head coach Johnny Blane step down from his position in the offseason.
But with new coach Sheri Hancock at the helm and a lot of returning assets to the team, County is confident it can make noise in the Second Region in 2020.
Through her first offseason as head coach, Hancock said she has focused a lot on the mental aspect of the game leading into the year.
“I didn’t start as much in the offseason as it has been done previously,” Hancock said. “We took the month of November off, started conditioning in December, then really started hitting the softball stuff hard and heavy in January. I spent a lot of time talking about the game of softball that happens in your head. I know that they have a lot of physical talent. We talk about being good teammates. Really focusing on doing the small things to win ball games.”
Hancock said the team has put in a lot of work this offseason and hopes her team will take the field this year.
“We’ve been working real hard,” Hancock said. “The girls get along well. I really, really like our chemistry. Our pitching looks real good. We return all three pitchers that had significant varsity time last year so I’m really hopeful about the pitching. I think we’re hitting the ball pretty well. We’re focused on hitting the outside pitch and hitting the balls the other way. We’re going to relay a lot on doing the small stuff.”
The season is currently up in the air due to the spread of COVID-19. The KHSAA initiated a dead period on Friday and it will go on until at least April 11.
Hancock said if the season does take place, she will look to her strength in the circle as the Lady Colonels head through the year. County returned Hannah Sumner as well as two other key pitchers that should be a big boost. Hancock said she hopes to keep Sumner well-rested throughout the season heading into the postseason.
“Hannah is looking really good,” Hancock said. “I think maybe at the end of last season that Hannah got a little tired. I’m going to rely on Hannah a lot, especially toward the end of the season. I may do some things a little bit differently with the pitching rotation so she stays a little bit more fresh … I think when it gets down to it if we get to play a regional tournament, Hannah is definitely going to be my go-to. I’m going to see if I can keep her fresh.”
As far as play at the plate in concerned, County lost two of its three best hitters from a year ago in Tyler Shemwell and Emmy Blane, but return a solid core of Hope Jones, Pickle Winkler and Reni Shemwell.
Hancock added Tenley Gilbert to that list and said she hopes to see all four of them hit the ball well this season, as it would lead to success.
“I’m going to expect a lot out of Tenley Gilbert as well,” Hancock said. “When I think about it, Pickle has got to produce, Hope is got to produce and Reni has got to produce and I’m going to need Tenley to produce especially at the top of the lineup. It gives me a lot of fo speed and a lot of pop. I’m not going to have as much pop as last year obviously, but I do think I’m going to be faster. I do think we’re going to be able to put a little bit more pressure running the bases. We’re just going to have a different approach.”
The Lady Colonels were set to begin the season on Monday, but due to the dead period, will lose some games. If the period ended on April 12, they would kick the season off on the road against McCracken County on the 13th according to the schedule, 18 games after the original beginning of the year.