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The St. Catharine College Lady Patriots softball team will use experience to find success in 2014.
The Lady Patriots are hungry to hit the diamond in 2014 after just missing the 2013 Mid-South Conference Tournament.
The Lady Patriots finished the 2013 season with a 22-30 record and a 9-21 mark in the MSC, but fell just short of making the eight-team field for the conference tournament.
“We had every opportunity to make the tournament,” said Head Coach Holly Smith, who is going into her 10th season at SCC. “The wins received by other teams due to a school forfeiting the remainder of their season definitely played a role in our not advancing. However, again, we had our chances and we put ourselves in that position. It’s never fun when your fate rests in what other teams do.”
With the 2013 season in the mirror, the Patriots will have to face the gargantuan task of replacing Hagan Goldey (Lancaster), a two time first team all-conference award winner.
Goldey not only led the Patriots and the MSC in batting average (.470) and stolen bases (28 total, .54 per game), but she also ranked 14th in the nation for her batting average and 19th for stolen bases.
“Hagan will definitely be missed in many ways: at the plate, on the field, in the classroom and just as a leader on our team,” Smith said. “She was a hard-nosed player and that will be what I miss the most and what will probably be the hardest thing to replace.”
In addition to Goldey, the Patriots lost Chelcie Rein (Louisville) and Ashley Hardin (Louisville).
Rein, who batted .370 and knocked in 28 RBI on nine home runs, played right field for the Patriots in 2013 while Hardin filled a pitching and outfield role.
The Lady Patriots will look to fill the shoes of their lost parts with a wealth of experience; the Patriots return 11 players to their roster, one of which is 2013 All-Mid-South Conference second-team member Brandi Hood (Bardstown).
Hood had another breakout season for the Patriots last season, batting .407 with 28 runs batted in for the Patriots. Hood will spend most of her time in centerfield for the Patriots, surrounded by returners Hillary Dwyer (Cheyenne Wells, Colo.) and Emily Fenwick (Lebanon).
Dwyer spent most of her time during the 2013 season mastering the task of being a slap hitter and sharing time with Hardin and Fenwick in left field.
However, Smith admits that there are no guaranteed spots in the outfield lineup as freshmen
Jessie Crouch (Lawrenceburg) and Tiffany Wickline (Georgetown) have caught the coach’s eye.
“Jesse had a phenomenal fall for us and should be able to make an impact early,” Smith said. “Tiffany is just a hard-working kid that will split time between the mound and the outfield; she will probably start the season as our number two in the pitching rotation.”
The Patriot pitching stable could be a force to be reckoned with in 2014 as the Patriots return two starters to a rotation that will look to come of age as the season progresses. On top of the class, junior Krystal Cammuse (Frankfort), who spent a portion of the 2013 season injured, kept hitters at bay as she posted an opponents’ batting average of only .280 and a team-leading 86 strikeouts in her 99.1 innings of work.
“Krystal worked hard this summer to get healthy and get back on track following her surgery last season,” Smith said. “She looks better now than she ever has for me.”
Following Cammuse in the rotation will be a combination of returner Brittany McKee (Somerset) and newcomers Wickline and Davelynn Day (Penrose, Colo.).
The hard-throwing McKee saw action in 91.2 innings in 2013 for the Patriots and held batters at bay with 58 strikeouts.
Junior transfer Day will look to rebound after playing much of her 2013 season at Lamar Community College in Lamar, Colo. injured.
The lone freshman of the group, Wickline, could make an immediate impact with her ability to control pitches and attack batters in the lower half of the zone.
“This summer, we changed our pitching format and implemented it in the fall this season,” Smith said. “We have been extremely hard on our pitching staff thus far. They seem to be responding well and look better than ever before.”
The Patriot infield will be led by returners Taylor Steff (Louisville), and Shelbi Thornhill (Hardinsburg).
Steff, the only four-year player for the Patriots, will spend much of her year manning the second base position, a spot that she has held down for three years and posted a .944 fielding percentage in 2013.
Thornhill will spend much of her season filling the first base position and playing the role of the designated hitter. In addition, Dwyer could see some time at first base or at the shortstop position during the 2014 campaign in order to fill the roster in certain pitching situations.
Newcomer Day will have the task of replacing Hagan Goldey at shortstop in 2014, while McKee will see time at third when not on the mound and Cammuse, the Patriots’ ace pitcher, will split time on the corners at first and third when not pitching.
The most interesting battle of the fall has been the battle for the catching position.
In 2013, the Patriots were left without a catcher until Kelsey Brooks (Bardstown) stepped to the plate and filled the role for the season.
With the new addition of Ramie Goldey (Lancaster), the Patriots seemed to have solidified the position.
Brooks may have been the replacement in 2013 but has shown a great deal of improvement over the fall, according to Smith.
“Kelsey has really stepped up and taken ownership of the catching position. Whoever gets the start at this position will have to earn it every game.”
The Patriots began their quest for the MSC crown on February 16 when they travel to Brescia.
Their first conference game will take place on February 28 when they host the University of Pikeville at Salt River Electric Field.