Springfield, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- It has always been said that pitching wins championships. The Kickapoo Lady Chiefs softball team will have a pitching advantage over many teams this season. Led by senior pitcher Lyndsey Johns among others, Kickapoo is looking to prove they will be a force to be reckoned with this year.
“I’m really excited for this year. We’ve got a lot of new freshman and a strong varsity team. We’re all ready to play,” Johns said.
In the previous season, the Lady Chiefs finished with a disappointing record of 13-15. According to head coach Tara Griffin, the team was too inconsistent last season, which ultimately lead to the final record.
“I believe that we learned a lot from last year and we are ready to go this year,” Griffin said.
With many returning players and the team consisting of all juniors and seniors, Kickapoo should be a competitive team in the Ozark Conference.
“For this coming year we have a lot of returning players and hope to have a strong season,” senior Mayci Hicks said.
Seniors Taylor Hickerson, Johns and Hicks are all expected to be intrical parts of this year’s team. All three girls have been playing varsity softball since freshman year, and will be team leaders in their final season.
“I believe we are going to have a successful season. We have seniors that have started since their freshmen year, and juniors with varsity experience as well. I believe that their knowledge, talent and hard work will pay off on the field,” Griffin said. “We are going to have a very fun year and as their coach, I am going to enjoy every minute I get to spend with my girls for their last year.”
Griffin had high praises for all her seniors. In talking about Johns, Griffin not only talked about her outstanding pitching, but also her commitment to improving her hitting and defensive game, too.
“Taylor Hickerson has been our catcher for four years. She has been a strong player since her freshman year. She has always been able to put the ball in play when hitting and has had lots of experience calling the game and performing behind the plate,” Griffin added. “Mayci Hicks is another starting senior since her freshmen year. She has been a utility player, playing mainly centerfield and shortstop. As a slapper, Mayci has been our lead-off hitter and is expected to be the lead off hitter again this year. She always seems to get the game started by getting on base first.”
Kickapoo will also need to get quality play from role players such as juniors Kylie Wilson and Brianna Hilton as well as seniors Stephanie Weidner, McKenna Hightower, and Taylor Johnston.
Weidner and Hilton are both replacing two of the best players from last season, third baseman Tori Wilson and right fielder Erica Ewing.
“We lost our third basemen and power hitter, Tori Wilson. Although she could never be replaced, newcomer senior Stephanie Weidner is being looked at to fill in her shoes,” Griffin said. “Erica Ewing graduated as well. She was our right fielder, and junior Brianna Hilton is being looked at to fill in her shoes.”
The Lady Chiefs’ competition will be as strong as ever this season. Ozark and Rolla are both predicted by Griffin to be tough opponents. There are many other strong teams in the conference, but with enough experience and talent, Kickapoo will be a competitive team.
Kickapoo opens its season Aug. 23 against the Willard Tigers.
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