By Chris Parker
Central softball enters the Ozark Conference this season coming off of a 2-13 season that ended with an 11-1 loss to Willard in the opening round of district play.
Numbers are down for the Lady Bulldogs, which will make the first season in the Ozark Conference a battle.
“We are very inexperienced,” Central head coach Rick Hammers said. “Entering the Ozark Conference is going to be tough. It is going to be an uphill battle.”
Hammers enters his 12th season as the head coach for Central. He does have two experienced players in shortstop Sara Cummins and pitcher/outfielder Skye Gray to lean on.
“She (Cummins) is probably one of the better defensive players in the area,” Hammers said. “She played some competitive ball in the summer and works hard. She is a good girl and a coach’s player.”
Hammers credits the work Cummins and Gray put in over the offseason for their success in the fall.
“Both of those girls play competitive ball in the summer and I think that is necessary to be a good softball player, and they have done it since second or third grade,” Hammers said. “I think softball is one of those sports you can’t pick up a ball, glove or bat up when you are coming into high school and expect to compete at a high level.”
Hammers will be looking for his team to steadily improve throughout the season.
“I would like to see major improvement both defensively and offensively from day one to the last day,” Hammers said. “I am going to try to instill hard work and effort in my team from Day 1.”
Central opens the season with city and Ozark Conference foe Kickapoo on Aug. 27.