While basketball season continues at Bandys High School, softball season is just around the corner.
The Lady Trojans softball team has tried to prepare for the early part of the season without their core players, who are members of the basketball team.
“It is real difficult to do,” said Bandys head coach Mike Carpenter. “We’ve been fighting that battle for a number of years. At this time, we only have three varsity age players that are practicing. We don’t have any of our catchers or varsity pitchers at practice. It makes it difficult for them to not only get ready for the season, but it is also difficult for our younger players to get used to the rotations and the disciplines it takes.”
Nine sophomores and six freshmen will be used in the early games of the season, due to the shortage of varsity players. Kelsey Clark, a varsity regular who normally plays left field, will serve as a catcher.
“We basically have to split a JV team,” Carpenter said. “We are going to do the best we can. We have a total of six innings pitched at the varsity level by the remaining pitchers we have now. We have two sophomores that we brought up last year and pitched some varsity. We do not have a catcher that has caught a varsity inning.”
Despite the early lack of depth, Carpenter feels that having his younger players in these varsity games will help the program’s success.
“I am excited they have the opportunity to play,” Carpenter said. “These girls are going to do a good job for us. They are going to give us what they have. They have practiced hard so far and prepared. That experience will help the varsity program in future years. I believe it is going to make our JV kids better. It should make them better and us better long term.”
The Lady Trojans finished the 2010 season with a 22-5-1 overall record and were 13-1 in the Catawba Valley Athletic Conference. They won the CVAC regular season and tournament titles, but fell in the second round of the NCHSAA playoffs to Starmount, 2-0.
Bandys lost three seniors from last year’s team, including center fielder Emily Bowman, who is currently playing for Gardner-Webb. Bowman started every game last season and was named All-CVAC.
Also lost were utility player Kayla Propst and newcomer Sarah Herman.
Several key additions will return to the squad after basketball season ends.
Among these will be CVAC Player of the Year Taylor Sigmon. She was a dominant pitcher as a sophomore and recorded a 13-5 record with a 1.80 ERA last season.
Sigmon also plays first and third base in addition to her pitching duties. She batted .423, scored 23 runs and drove in 12 RBIs last year.
Senior Katie Carpenter also returns for the Lady Trojans. She was named North Carolina District 7 Player of the Year, after going 8-0 on the mound.
In addition to her pitching duties, Katie plays right-side infield with time at first base, second base and catcher. She hit .449 last season, drove in 24 RBIs and score 29 runs.
Both Sigmon and Carpenter were named All-CVAC and All-State last season. They are two of the four players who return in the Trojans’ pitching rotation.
“We alternate our pitchers game-to-game,” said coach Carpenter. “We have been known to swap pitchers quite often. That all depends on who we are playing and what we are looking for. Right now, we aren’t sure what is going to happen.”
The senior trio of shortstop Kailey Punch, catcher Rachel Cox and left fielder Clark are three more All-CVAC selections who return to the team.
They combined for 57 runs and 66 RBIs last season. Clark tied for the team lead in doubles (12) with Katie, and Cox was one of the team’s leaders in extra base hits with eight.
Last season, the Trojans only lost one game in the CVAC — a 9-8 defeat to South Iredell., but coach Carpenter believes the conference will be a lot stronger.
He thinks his team will have another great season, but only if they prepare for each game the right way.
“We hope we have a successful season,” coach Carpenter said. “We hope we can compete in the conference again this year. We have to prepare as if we are the champions and the hunted. We have to have a different mindset than what we’ve had in the past. We have prepare and practice at a higher level. If we do that, everything will work itself out in the games.”