The Lone Grove fast pitch softball team opens its season tonight at home against Lexington after a busy summer of games in Tishomingo and tournaments around the state.
“We’ve had a pretty good summer and have a good bunch of girls,” Lone Grove coach Jimmy Miller said. “We’re really excited about the year to come.”
The Longhorns return seven starters from last year. Ashton Johnson, Beth Hallum and Allison Bolles are the three seniors from the 2013 squad that fell one win short of the state tournament.
“We have three seniors with one starting at third base, one at first base and another one that hits for us,” Miller said. “They started for us last year. They’ve been solid for us. We’ve got a good group of girls in general. It’s one of those things where they feed off of each other as a team and they’re fun to be around.”
Lone Grove hopes to learn from its deep playoff run and advance to the state tournament for the first time since 2008.
“We got beat in the regional final last year against Cache,” Miller said. “We had a lot of new starters last year. A lot of it was new to them, and that was a big game for them to be in. We didn’t have any appearances at that level yet. I feel like we’ve got it now, and we’re looking forward to that challenge again.”
Miller expects a difficult group in the Lake Country Conference, but the schedule leading up to it should have the Longhorns prepared.
“It’s always a tough conference with tough teams,” Miller said. “That’s always fun. We play a pretty tough schedule before that. We go to the Tuttle tournament this week, which is always tough. Then we go to the Chickasha tournament towards the end of the year. Also the Plainview tournament. We’ll see some good teams in those three tournaments.”
Madi Baughman, Lynzi Taylor, Raley Long, Cheyanna Stepp and the three seniors are the returning starters. Miller expects freshman Brooklyn Mason in left field and sophomore shortstop Kacee Dellis to add to the talented group.
“We’ve got really good team speed,” Miller said. “Pitching has been really good. Defense is still not exactly where we want it to be. But, it will get there. We’re just very athletic.”