RINGLING — Last year, something happened to the Ringling Lady Blue Devils, which hadn’t happened in two years.

RINGLING — Last year, something happened to the Ringling Lady Blue Devils, which hadn’t happened in two years.

They missed the state tournament.

After a string of two straight appearances in Oklahoma City, the Lady Blue Devils fell in heartbreaking fashion at the regional tournament, following a pair of close losses.

However, with three seniors, seven juniors, six sophomores and four freshman on the squad this season, there’s more than enough experience to go around for Ringling, as the Lady Blue Devils look to make it back to the big stage at state.

“It’s definitely a frustrating feeling not making it to the state tournament,” Ringling coach Steve Pybas said. “At the same time though, it’s just made our girls want it even more this year. Our girls know they are going to have to work hard on the field and in the classroom as well. There’s going to have to be some luck and some breaks in there, but we feel like we have what it takes to be successful.”

It doesn’t take much explaining to see why the Lady Blue Devils feel as confident as they do when you look at who is returning 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.

“One of the biggest strengths we have is the fact we have multiple girls who can play at multiple positions,” Pybas said. “We’re also going to have some extra help at pitching this year so Rayme (Tolliver) will get some relief there. Softball is very important to these girls and this community as well and our players have been working very hard this summer and in the preseason to reach their goals.” 

Ringling finished last season with an overall record of 20-8, and will open the season on Aug. 7 against the Dickson Lady Comets on the road before taking part in the Rock Creek tournament beginning on Thursday Aug. 9.