Coming off a 14-22 season last year, LaRue County High School softball coach Aaron Howell is looking for his Lady Hawks to rebuild and refresh not only their skills but also their mental approach to the game.
“If there is a weakness to the team, it’s definitely with the mentality of winning,” the eight-year coaching veteran said. “Our girls have struggled with the mental side of the game in the past and have shown signs of improving. If they continue to focus on the mental side of winning, then we should have a good year.”
He said the team, practicing since mid-January, has so far had a great attitude.
“They get along great and are hard workers,” said Howell.
The lone returning senior is pitcher and infielder Kayla Skaggs.
“Kayla is an outstanding student (Governor’s Scholar) in addition to her athletic talents,” Howell said. “She is a three-year starter and along with my three juniors offers a lot of leadership.”
Eleventh-graders include outfielder Peyton Gardner, Courtney Johnson at third base, and second baseman/pitcher Brigitte Skaggs.
“Peyton has four years of varsity experience and offers a lot of leadership,” said Howell. “She anchors our outfield and has a great arm.”
Johnson also has four years varsity experience, and, according to the coach, is outstanding not only as a team leader, but also as a batter.
“Brigitte has two years of varsity experience,” said Howell. “She has been an important piece to this team the last two years as far as pitching and hitting go.”
Joining the upper classmen are sophomores Trishtian Cruse, Sierra Mullins, Emillee Cundiff and freshmen Jill Hughes, Mallory Skaggs, Delany Eastridge and Shakeya Washington.
The coach said Eastridge, an infielder/outfielder, has steadily improved in all areas the last two years.
Playing infield or outfield, Skaggs, a member of the state champion cheerleading squad, brings a championship winning attitude to the team, according to the coach.
“Shakeya (outfield) is blessed with a lot of speed and we’re hoping to utilize that this year,” Howell said. “Jill started for us at the end of last year and has a great bat, glove, and attitude; we are excited to have her on the team.”
The Lady Hawks beat Hart County in the 18th District tournament last year before losing to district champ Green County. LaRue fell to Marion County in the opening round of the 2012 Fifth Region Tournament.
Howell, a veteran math teacher at LCHS, said his team’s goals this season are to win the district and region tournament.
The Lady Hawks opened regular season play March 14 at Bethlehem, winning 10-4 in eight innings.
Brigitte Skaggs went 2-for-5 with a double and five RBIs.
Hughes chipped in with two doubles and two RBIs, while Gardner had three singles and an RBI.
Skaggs struck out five and gave up 11 hits, four earned runs and two walks in eight innings.