By Chris Parker
Buffalo will look to climb back toward .500 as the Lady Bison enter the Ozark Mountain Conference after years in the COC Small, which dissolved after last season.
“Although there a lot of competitive teams in our new conference, we are ready for a new start,” Buffalo head coach Dana Henderson said.
The Lady Bison will feature a large group of underclassmen this season, but shortstop Emily Rice will be a strong leader in her senior season coming off of a first-team all-conference selection season last year. She posted a .450 batting average and .516 on-base percentage to go with 18 RBI at the plate last season.
“Emily is such an amazing leader on and off the field, always leading by example,” Henderson said. “Throughout the year, her stats were never a surprise. She came to practice every day ready to improve and work hard. She definitely earned her honors last year, but we are eager to see what this year has in store for her.”
Sophomore Katelyn Gillispie pitched in all 26 games last season and returns to the circle this year. She went 6-12 with a 4.44 ERA.
The infield will be rounded out by freshman Bella Young at first base, junior Savannah Rice at second base and freshman Darby Armstrong at third base. Kelsey Williams will be behind the plate at catcher in her sophomore season. Williams hit .317 last year with 12 RBI while Savannah Rice posted a .245 on-base percentage.
Senior Allie Maddux will play left field with junior Makayla Short in center. Junior Madison Bennett and freshman Jada Watson will compete for time in right field. Maddux hit .289 with 12 RBI last season while Short posted a .277 on-base percentage.
“We will be playing a lot of underclassmen this year, but we will be very competitive,” Henderson said. “This group has put in a lot of work this summer and we are excited to get the season rolling.”
Buffalo opens the season on Aug. 25 with its home invitational tournament.