UNION — What was expected to be a rebuilding year could end up being much more for the Union County softball team.
The Lady Jackets lost six starters to graduation but there are some young impact players who are eager to fill the positions.
There are also a couple of key players from the 2012 team to watch for including All-Region shortstop Abby Allen who returns for her senior season.
“We got a good nucleus back,” said Union County Head Coach Danny Gault. “We’ve definitely got some hitters and I really think pitching will be strong once we get into the season.”
In addition to Allen, Union County returns Kristen Clayton, MaKayla Plemmons, Cece Moorman and Dexlie Inman. Kanani Lodge, a transfer from Chapin, adds experience to the Lady Jackets roster as do Shakira Worthy and Kristin Giles who each played as sophomores before taking a year off.
The Jackets will feature freshman pitchers Peyton Martin and Hannah Sailors who each pitched a couple of varsity games last season.
“They’re still learning the system and it takes a while but Jay (Allen) and Red (Johnny Vaughan) are teaching them what to throw, when and where to throw it,” said Gault. “We have a philosophy, “Don’t throw them a strike…Make it close, but don’t throw them a strike.’”
The Lady Jackets won both scrimmages Thursday night in a doubleheader at Dorman, blowing Clinton out 12-0 in three innings and upending Dorman, 13-4 in four. Moorman and Allen led the offensive attack with five hits each.
“We hit the ball well last night,” said Gault. “We were actually looking at the ball and not just swinging at whatever they threw.”
Last year, Union County finished the season with a 19-6 overall record and made it through three rounds of the AAA playoffs before being eliminated in the fourth by Nation Ford.
“We should make the playoffs easily,” said Gault, “And if we get a couple of wins where we might not be expected to, we could win the region.”