By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
After eclipsing the 20-win barrier in back-to-back seasons, West Plains went through a rebuilding year in 2018. The Lady Zizzers finished 8-17, falling to Osage in the first round of districts.
Head coach Amy Marshall believes last season’s adversity will have a positive effect on her program heading into the fall season.
“We had hoped to win a few more games but knew it was going to be a struggle after losing five starters,” Marshall said. “We had five freshman get significant playing time last year and that varsity experience should help them this year.”
A trio of Lady Zizzers graduated from the program, none bigger than catcher Alyssa Sims.
“Our biggest loss will be Alyssa Sims,” Marshall said. “She was our starting catcher and signed this spring to play ball at Evangel University. Sims will leave a big hole in the lineup. She hit .400 with 4 home runs after missing the first part of the season with an injury.”
West Plains will be led by a new pair of seniors this season in Abbi Thompson (.338 BA) and Maggie Davidson (.318 BA).
“Thompson is a tough competitor. She plays shortstop and has been a starter every year,” Marshall said. “Davidson plays third base and was also one of our better hitters last season. Both of these ladies have been on successful teams in the past and understand the work that it takes to get us back to the level we want to compete.”
The Lady Zizzers have high expectations for freshman pitcher Zoey Williams, who will anchor the staff in the circle this season.
“The biggest newcomer we have this season would be Zoey Williams,” Marshall said. “We are looking to her to come in and make an immediate impact. Williams should bring some consistency to our pitching, which was a struggle last year, and will also bring a good stick to the lineup.”
For West Plains to improve this season, Marshall believes pitching will play a vital role.
“Our pitchers last season struggled to throw strikes, and we have a lot of confidence in Williams going into the season,” Marshall said. “She throws hard and puts it in the strike zone. She will really have to work on hitting her spots and mixing in her other pitches to keep teams off balance.”
With only two seniors on the roster, West Plains will be counting on its underclassmen to make big strides early in the season.
“We are a young team and last year some of the younger players struggled facing better pitching throughout the season,” Marshall said. “We are looking to those sophomores this year to be more comfortable and more productive in the lineup.”
The Lady Zizzers open the season Aug. 30 in the Morrisville Tournament.