By Chris Parker
Lamar softball has a new coach this year, but it is a familiar name in Tim Timmons. Timmons was previously the head coach of the Lady Tiger program for seven years before retiring after a 21-4 district-championship season in 2013.
Timmons remained on staff at Lamar as a teacher, but was talked into returning to the dugout this year. He required some convincing at first, but the love of the game brought him back.
“My initial reaction was ‘no, I am not going to do this.’ The more I thought about it; I love the game, and I love the kids,” Timmons said. “So far all of our practices have been real positive. I see the kids getting better every night. That is encouraging for me. I hope they see it (too).”
Timmons will have a young roster featuring just three seniors and nine freshmen this year. He is looking to turn around a Lamar softball program that hasn’t won more than eight games in a season since that 21-win year in 2013.
The three seniors leading the way this year will be catcher Ashley Lawrence, pitcher Ashland Diggs and centerfielder Hope Herrera. Lawrence is the lone returning all-conference player for Lamar. She was named Second-Team All-Big 8 as a catcher last year.
“Ashley runs the team. She knows the game. She receives the ball well and takes pretty good care of the pitcher. She is will be a huge asset to our program,” Timmons said.
Megan Watson will be the shortstop, as the junior enters her third season as a starter for Lamar. Classmate Elly Haun will be the starting first baseman. After that, second base, third base and the two corner outfield positions are an open competition.
Timmons hopes to turn the win total around, but he has no plans to soften the schedule to accomplish that goal.
“We are in not only the Big 8, but we are in the Branson Tournament, the Joplin Tournament and the Carthage Tournament. I like to play better teams. I don’t like to play mediocre teams and blow them out. If you don’t play better teams then you aren’t going to get better,” Timmons said.
Timmons is working hard with his players on the field, but equally important to getting back above .500 will be the mental aspect of the game.
“I want these kids to have enough success that they can go out to ball games thinking they can win,” Timmons said. “That seems to be their problem right now; they are just indecisive on whether they can win or not. I am hoping by the first game they are ready and get started off on the right foot. I think the program will only flourish from there.”
Lamar opens the season on Sept. 3 at home against Reeds Spring.