WEST LAFAYETTE -- Coming off a tough 4-18 season a year ago, the Ridgewood High Lady Generals have every intention of returning to their winning ways of the past this season on the softball diamond.
Veteran coach Kirby Shivers, entering his 14th season leading the RHS softball program feels confident his team will respond and rebound with a good season.
"Last year was quite a change for us," Shivers said. "We're not use to having a season like that around here, and we don't like the taste a season like that leaves in your mouth. We want to get back to playing Ridgewood softball this year"
A total of six letterwinners return for the Orange and Black, paced by sophomore catcher Emily McCoy who turned in an impressive freshman season last year by leading the Lady Generals with a .313 batting average.
Two-year monogram winners back include juniors Amy Foreman, Jasmine Pelfrey, Kalynn Bluck, Abbey Youngen and Taylor Zinkon.
Foreman will handle the "hot corner" as the starting third baseman; Pelfrey holds down the shortstop position; Bluck opens in centerfield and Youngen will be at second base for the Lady Generals.
Sophomore Jordan Cognion gets the nod at first base while a battle is going on in preseason to grab starting spots in left field and right field.
Players in contention for those starting slots include sophomores Erica Olinger, Lindsey Gould and Paige Bowman along with freshmen Brianna Grace, Ericka Michael and Ashton Redovian.
After a tough first season pitching for the Lady Generals, Zinkon will hold down the number one pitcher slot hoping to improve on last year's 4-16 mark.
"Last year was the first year pitching from 43 feet instead of 40, so that was a big adjustment in itself," Shivers said, "but then Taylor also got stuck being are only pitcher after we lost a player who transferred to Hiland, and she was our only pitcher so that put a lot on Taylor's plate and I felt she did a good job."
Now with a year under her belt, Shivers is confident that Zinkon will be much improved for the Lady Generals.
"I know we are going to see much improvement in Taylor this year. She has worked hard in the offseason," Shivers said. "Plus now we have some help for her with some more depth in our pitching staff."
That pitching depth will come from junior Sammi Thompson and Michael, who Shivers says will be his number two pitching option to open the season.
Another pair of pitchers who could contribute are sophomore Jordan Cognion and Redovian.
"I'm going to do something I haven't done since my first few years as coach," Shivers said. "We're going to go with a combination of pitchers most of the time. It's a strategy we haven't used for several years as we've usually had a dominating pitcher. At least we're going to start out that way, but I'm confident Taylor or even one of the other girls could turn into that dominating pitcher for us. If that happens, then we may adjust our strategy."
In looking at the Inter-Valley Conference, as always you start with powerful Strasburg which is coming off another state championship last year.
"It all starts with Strasburg as the top dog in the IVC as always until somebody takes them out," Shivers said, "but the rest of the league is a balanced as I've seen in a few years. There is nobody you can take lightly. You need to be ready to play each and every night."
With just 14 players out this season, the Lady Generals will not field a junior varsity team.
Shivers' coaching staff includes assistants Tina Parmiter, Salley Sharier, Brenda McCoy and Toya Moore.
"We have a lot of athletes who can play multiple positions," Shivers said. "We are able to move so people around and I feel that is a strength for us. We're young but at the same time we have some experience also. I feel like we're going to be an improved team. We could be a dangerous team if some things go right for us."