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SHEPHERDSVILLE - The more things change the more they stay the same.
That is pretty much the story for the Bullitt Central Lady Cougars in 2012. Last year, the maroon and gray had a successful season with only 10 varsity players. That team had just one senior, but coach Buddy Gallemore's team posted a 20-19 record and finished as the runner-up in District 24.
Now, the maroon and gray are still short on numbers as Bullitt Central has just 12 varsity players. Still, Gallemore has high hopes for the Lady Cougars this spring.
"There are some new girls," the veteran coach said last week. "We lost a few girls to different priorities which is fine. I think with what we have we can do as well if not better.
"This is an improvement," Gallemore said of have 12 on the varsity roster. "I've heard from other schools that their numbers are down also."
After having just one senior a year ago, the program has just two seniors this spring. It is the return of those two players, particularly pitcher Seaera Minyard, that fuels the expectations in Shepherdsville.
With the powerful Minyard on the mound, the Lady Cougars should be competitive in every game.
"Seaera has established herself and she worked hard last summer and fall," her coach said. "We just have to get her into pitching shape."
Minyard did spend the last three months starting for the basketball team and so just joined the softball team in the past couple of weeks.
"She threw in our scrimmage (against Greenwood) and got a little tired," Gallemore said. "She still looked good. She hadn't thrown in a full game since last summer."
Minyard did utilize a pitching coach when her schedule allowed during the basketball season according to Gallemore.
The Lady Cougars also have a back-up with some varsity experience in sophomore Hailey Szpila. Gallemore more wanted to use her in the circle more last season, but she wasn't quite ready to carry her practice form over to the games at that point.
"I'm hoping to get her more innings," Gallemore said. "She threw well the other day for three innings. I expect her to step up and play bigger."
Bullitt Central is also strong and experienced behind the plate with sophomore Haley Dukes returning. Dukes will have to be strong behind the plate as she does not have a back-up at this point.
"Haley is playing with a lot more confidence to call pitches and make adjustments behind the plate," Gallemore said.
At first base, the Lady Cougars will use the pitcher not in the circle at the time. Szpila is left-handed which Gallemore likes in a first baseman and she played the position last season.
A big plus for Bullitt Central this season is the return of junior Katie Hutchison who suffered a serious knee injury in the first scrimmage last season and could not play after that. She will step in at second base and also be the team's lead-off hitter.
On the left side of the infield, the Lady Cougars will have the team's other senior, Whitney Miller back at shortstop.
"Whitney is one of the most improved players I've had from the start or her career to this point," Gallemore said. "I really trust her at that position."
Junior Darian Deaver will serve as Miller's back-up.
At third base, Gallemore has not settled on a starter yet. Junior Dana Johnson started there last season, but is being pushed by newcomer Makayla Robinson, a freshman.
"Makayla will push her and that will make both players better," Gallemore pointed out.
The coach has settled on two of his outfield spots as Deaver will return in leftfield while eighth-grader Sarah Noble will take the spot in center. Sophomore Jessie Weiss did get some experience in right last season, but missed part of the season with a broken finger. Two other candidates for right field are freshman Shelby Ross and Robinson.
Another player that Gallemore will be looking to use is freshman Mackenzie Pruitt.
"She has speed. She has speed to burn," the coach said. "Her and Shelby Ross are the fastest we have. I want to use them in role situations."
With only 17 players in the entire program, Bullitt Central will not play any freshmen games this season. Last year, the Lady Cougars got some help from the team at Bernhiem Middle School to play a freshman schedule, but there is no team at that level this spring.
"Our goal every year is to win the district," Gallemore said. "We want to raise the bar. We want to go further than we have. We want to compete for a regional title.
"The girls feel like they can do that," the coach added. "We have played Butler tough and we played PRP (last year's regional champions) to 3-0 and we have been there with Bullitt East."
Bullitt Central opened the season on Tuesday at Western and they will play host to Ballard, the state's second-ranked team, on Thursday at 5 p.m.