Last year was a rebuilding year for the Pocahontas County Lady Warriors softball team. This year you can call it a building year. Just one senior resides on the Lady Warriors’ roster – Bethany Arbogast – who anchors the infield at second base. But four juniors return this year, giving the team a decent amount of veteran experience going into Tuesday’s opener – a doubleheader against Pendleton County at Stillwell Park.
Third year coach Rick Hartzell has confidence in his pitching staff.
“Right now, I have three main pitchers,” he said. “It will be Kaylin Murray, Bobbie McNabb and Natalie Hartzell. They’re looking real good so far for this time of the year. They’re getting more and more in shape, throwing more pitches and looking better with each passing day.
“The one I will probably pitch the most is Kaylin Murray. She’s quicker and got more stuff – curveball, change-up and stuff like that.”
The Lady Warriors are rock solid behind the plate.
Coach Hartzell went around the bases to describe his talented infielders.
“The first baseman is also Natalie Hartzell,” said the coach. “Very good, but then, I’ve been coaching her since she was six years old and she’s 17 now. She’s been around baseball and softball. She’s very strong at that position.
“Second base will be between my senior Bethany Arbogast and my other daughter, Lindsey, who is a freshman. So, she’ll see time too because I’ve got to get her ready for the upcoming year.”
“Third base – I have a returner there with Emily Boothe. Very strong at that position. Very good thrower. Hard thrower. So, we’re pretty good there.”
Hartzell said his outfield is more of a project.
“The outfield is kind of a scramble this year,” he said. “I’ve changed things around. I have a returning outfielder in Harley Francisco, who I’ve moved to center. I have a couple that I’ll be trying out at left and right.”
The coach is still sizing up his team hitting.
“I’m not real sure, at this time,” he said. “We’re trying to go over it. A few girls have got it down pretty good. A few need some work. I really couldn’t tell you how good we are hitting. Ask me after Tuesday.”
The coach is happy with team cohesion.
“They’re starting to talk more,” said Hartzell. “That was one of my main missions when I took this job – was to get them working together as a team. Now, they’re talking. They’ll yell at each other, ‘good catch’ and ‘good throw’ and I like to see that. That’s what you need out there – they’ve got to click.”
Fans hope to see the Lady Warriors clicking when they host the Lady Wildcats on Tuesday. The Cats will be a tough challenge. Pendleton had a good season last year, finishing 13-11, but lost four talented seniors. See next week’s edition for a report on the doubleheader with Pendleton and five other games scheduled for the coming week.