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HEBRON ESTATES - After a season in which the program had no seniors, the North Bullitt Lady Eagles enter the 2012 season with what might seem like a relatively old team for veteran head coach Eric Lambert since he does have two seniors.
Still, with the loss to two of the best players from last year’s team, Lambert still considers his team young. The good news is that they are more experienced, especially in the pitching circle.
In addition, because the KHSAA allowed teams to start the season earlier this year than ever before, there has been very little practice time for the Lady Eagles as they open the season this week. The team was supposed to play at Sacred Heart on Monday, but that game got rained out and is now scheduled for Thursday of this week.
In addition, the team was unable to get on its field for much of February because of a mole infestation. That problem has been worked out and the team is now getting up to speed.
North Bullitt did hold a scrimmage against Manual and while they did come out on the short end of the score, they did learn a lot about themselves.
“We learned a little bit,” Lambert said earlier this week. “It was good to see people that because of injuries and such stepped in a played well at spots they may have only practiced in one time.”
First, the Lady Eagles will have to overcome two key non-graduation losses. First, lead-off hitter Jordan Vorbrink, who had played three seasons with the Lady Eagles, transferred to Mercy for her freshman season.
In addition, just recently junior Caitlin Crowder was lost for the season to have surgery on her shoulder. There was no one blow to the shoulder that needed to be repaired, it was just something that came up from years of softball and volleyball. Crowder is one of the area’s top volleyball players and would have been a big bat in the middle of Lady Eagle line-up this season.
Those two players were starting middle infielders last season for a team that won just six games.
On the good news front, the Lady Eagles do return their top two pitchers from last season. Shelby Crenshaw, a freshman, and sophomore Elise Mills were thrown into action last season when the expected starter transferred. They showed their youth and inexperience at times last season.
“They are still young, but they have a lot more experience,” Lambert said.
There were times last year that one of the two would start and then the other would come into the game before Lambert would switch back to the starter. He is hoping for a little more consistency this spring.
“I’d love to get to the point where we can count on two kids going seven innings,” the coach said. “With the youth we have there you just go day-to-day.”
Catching the two young pitchers will be junior Brooke Adams while junior Tori Andres could also see some time behind the plate.
At this point, Lambert is not ready to name any starters for his four infielders. There might be some players who are infielders, but even they are being moved around to find the best fit.
One of the most experienced players in the program is senior Darian Davenport who this week signed to play softball for Indiana University Southeast. She will start, but it could be at either of the corner spots or at shortstop.
One of the team’s top athletes is freshman Breanna Sherrard. She has started the past three seasons in the center field because of her speed, but she might have to come in and play at shortstop.
Another probable starter who doesn’t have a firm position yet is junior Devan Benz. Tori Andres could also play at first base if she is not catching. Junior Brittany Davis is another who could start in the infield or the outfield.
Lambert is also looking at sophomore Leeanna Hundley as a possible second baseman while sophomore Brianna Johnson is just getting back with the team after an injury. Two other younger players, freshmen Whitney Jones and ReAunna Puskac could also get a look at an infield spot.
The story is much the same in the outfield. Sherrard could be in center field and both sophomore Carly Benz and freshman Amber Amburgey have some experience in the other outfield spots. Davis, who transferred in from southern Indiana, could also play in the outfield as could the team’s other senior, Megan Allen.
Two other players, junior Carrie Rice and sophomore Rachel Lucas could also help the team in the outfield.
“We’re going to have at least 12 or 13 kids battling for playing time,” Lambert said. “The first half of the season we’ll experiment with a line-up until we find something we’re comfortable with.”
With spring break being a week later this spring than other years, that gives North Bullitt an extra week to be ready for the start of the district games on April 17 against Fairdale. Lambert would like to have a set rotation by that time.
“I would say that we have tournaments that bookend spring break so would hope that after that second tournament that we’ll have a line-up,” the coach pointed out. “We have a lot of talent, but it is raw. It is just going to come down to who takes advantage of the opportunities.”