WEST LAFAYETTE -- Coming off a rough 3-23 season last year, Ridgewood High veteran softball coach Kirby Shivers hopes a large contingent of returning lettermen can turn hard lessons learned last year into a successful season this time around for the Lady Generals.
Shivers enters his 15th season guiding the RHS softball program and will have a total of 11 letterwinners back in the fold this campaign as the Lady Generals hope to 'right the ship' after a pair of disappointing seasons on the softball diamond.
"We should be better this year, no doubt," Shivers said. "This group just needs to learn how to win. A lot of times last year we were in position to get a win and just didn't finish it off with a victory."
"The talent is here," the RHS coach continued. "They just need to believe in themselves and get out there and play with some confidence."
Leading the talent pool for RHS will be a pair of three-year letterwinners in seniors Amy Foreman (INF) and Jasmine Pelfrey (OF-2B). Pelfrey, who earned second team all-Inter-Valley Conference honors last season, was the Lady Generals' leading hitter last year at .313 with 10 RBI.
"Jasmine was our top hitter last year," Shivers said. "She's one of our leaders out on the field and I'm expecting big things from her this year."
Foreman finished at .233 with a team-leading seven stolen bases on the season for the Lady Generals, and Shivers feels this could be a big year for her as well.
"Amy just needs to gain some more confidence in herself," Shivers said. "She has a lot of speed and I expect a solid year from her, she needs to continue to work hard on her hitting and fielding."
Another valuable returning veteran will be senior two-year letter winner Taylor Zinkon (P-2B), who was the second leading hitter with an average of .289. Zinkon earned first team all-IVC and first team all-Eastern District honors last year for her solid play. Zinkon will be one of the top two pitchers for Shivers and turned in a 3-9 pitching mark last year with an ERA of 6.12.
"Taylor will carry a big load for us this year," Shivers said. "She's one of our top pitchers and is also a valuable bat in the line-up for us as well."
Expected to team with Zinkon at the top of the RHS pitching rotation will be sophomore letterman Erika Michael (P-OF), who during her freshman season compiled a tough 0-13 pitching mark with an ERA of 6.66. Despite the numbers, Shivers feels Michael gains lots of valuable experience a season ago.
"Erika and Taylor will again be our top two pitchers," Shivers said. "They may not have had a great deal of success last year, but I'm confident all the innings of experience they gained could be a real plus for us this year."
Junior Emily McCoy (C-DH), coming off knee surgery, is a two-year letterwinner for the Lady Generals and the number one catcher, but she will be worked in slowly in the early stages of the year.
"We're going to bring Emily along slowly," Shivers explained. "She played the whole basketball season, but we'll limit her innings behind the plate early on and could use her at DH some. She really started out hot at the plate last year and then kind of tailed off. She could make a real difference in our batting order."
McCoy led the Lady Generals
Continued on page 23
with 15 RBI last season, along with a batting average of .256.
Other letterwinners returning for RHS include seniors Kalynn Bluck (CF-1B), Abbey Youngum (3B-C), along with juniors Erica Olinger (INF), Jordan Cognion (1B-OF), Lindsey Gould (OF-2B) and sophomore Brianna Grace (CF-C)
Freshman Jaedyn Wentz (2B-SS) could work her way into some playing time in the middle infield as well according to Shivers. A pair of freshmen who will share time between junior varsity and varsity will be Paige Patterson (3B-2B-SS) and Kayla Sharier (C-OF).
In sizing up the softball race in the IVC, Shivers feels as usual it will start with perennial power Strasburg.
"You always have to start with Strasburg in the IVC," Shivers said. "They just seem to reload each year, they have a great program up there. I also think TCC will be good and Sandy Valley will be improved. We just hope to make a move in the standings and be competitive once again."
Ridgewood will also face a tough non-league schedule with games with John Glenn and Loudonville, along with Division II schools Morgan and Granville.
"I feel the key to the year is to get off to a good start," Shivers said. "That would help us build our confidence and go along way towards a solid year, but it won't be easy as we have a pretty tough schedule this year."
Shivers coaching staff this season includes junior varsity coach Brenda McCoy and JV assistant Toya Moore. Varsity assistants for Shivers are Tina Parmieer and Sally Sharier.
Ridgewood will travel to Morgan for a doubleheader to open the new season on Saturday, March 30.