A lot has happened in 23 years.
A lot has happened in 23 years.
One constant though during that time has been Steve Pybas, who is entering his 23rd season as the head coach of the Ringling Lady Blue Devils softball team.
During his successful run as he head coach, the Lady Blue Devils have managed to reach the state tournament multiple times, including owning a Class 2A state title from the 2008 season.
However, while he might have seniority over most the the other area coaches as far as time at his current school, Pybas is hoping this season his squad is able to have seniority over the rest of the teams in their classification.
“Our biggest thing this summer has been moving kids and trying them at different positions,” Pybas said. “We’ve been trying to get each other used to playing with one another and just having everyone learn their respective responsibilities.”
It might not seem like that long ago, but the last time Ringling made the state fast pitch tournament was during the 2016-17 season when the Lady Blue Devils reached the semifinals.
Last season, Ringling managed to rack up another district championship, but was defeated in the regional tournament.
Ringling graduated a solid senior class from last year including All-Ardmoreite Defensive Player of the Year and All-State selection Kassidy Perkins.
Last season Perkins finished with a .989 fielding percentage to go with a .340 batting average and a slugging percentage of .491.
Whitney Lester was also a graduating senior from last year as she finished with a .923 fielding percentage along with a .281 batting average and 15 RBI.
Codi Tolliver and Presley Reid were the other two seniors Ringling graduated from last year, as the pair combined for 28 RBI between them as well as 35 hits last season.
However, there are several key returning players coming back for the Lady Blue Devils this season.
Leading hitter London Lewis will be back this year after hitting .519 last season along with a .772 slugging percentage. She also led the team with 41 hits and 36 runs scored. She was second on the team with 27 RBI.
Also returning is Rayme Tolliver, who will be looked upon for her pitching and her hitting.
Tolliver finished last season with a 2.96 ERA while going 20-8 on the mound. She totaled 74 strikeouts while allowing just 60 earned runs all season.
At the plate Tolliver hit .482 with a .527 slugging percentage with 21 RBI and 40 total hits for the season.
Other returning players from last season who will be looked to for an impact this year are Steelie Price and Kelsea Thompson, who both finished with batting averages above .330 last season.
Karagan Cox will also be returning this season after finishing last year with a .927 fielding percentage.
“We lost four very good seniors from last year, so we have some holes to fill this season,” Pybas said. “Jacoby Miller is playing some outfield for us, and Ashlynn Wilkins is a new girl who moved in from Ardmore, so she’s getting some good playing time this summer. We’ve got four to five freshman this season, and right now we’re just trying to balance everything and work towards getting better.”
Ringling will be back in action today at Plainview beginning at 3 p.m. against Lone Grove followed by a 4 p.m. contest against the Plainview Lady Indians.
Ringling will then finish its summer schedule next week at the FCA Festival which will be held at Lone Grove High School at Glenn Wendt Field.