George Rogers Clark Lady Cardinals.
COACH: Matt Puckett, first season.
LAST YEAR: The Lady Cardinals finished 33-11 and advanced to the state tournament. Clark defeated Ashland Blazer in the opening round, before bowing out of the double-elimination tournament with losses to Louisville Mercy and North Laurel. Puckett takes over for longtime coach Jackie McCloud, who stepped down last summer.
STARTERS LOST: Morgan Woosley and Kayla Jones.
TOP RETURNEES: Amy Haggard, Caitlin Collins, Shamy Williams, Megan Bealert, Ali Martin, Kelsey May and Rebecca Strange. Haggard went 20-7 last season and batted .383 for Clark. May also recorded an 11-2 record. Martin will fill the team’s void at shortstop and Kolbi Mitchell started the season at third base. Collins, Whitney Conkwright and Sammi Maines will be counted on in the outfield, while Strange (second base) and Bealert will join Mitchell and Martin in the infield. Williams is back behind the plate.
OUTLOOK: Puckett will be looking for leadership from Williams, Haggard, Bealert, Martin and Collins, the team’s five seniors. “Our five seniors have a great work ethic,” Puckett said. “(They) love to play the game. We practice long hours and never get a complaint.” Puckett said the team’s goals are to compete “day-in and day-out.” “We do that, and we’ll be prepared for the postseason. We’re looking forward to the five seniors leading the team this year. We have a tough schedule, but we believe it will pay off for us in the postseason.”
SCHEDULE: Today, Tates Creek, 5:30 p.m.; Thursday at Scott County, 6 p.m.; March 25-26, at Battle by the Creek, Johnson Central; March 29, Paris, 5:30 p.m.; March 30, Vernon Hills, Ill., 8 p.m.; April 1, Fern Creek, 6 p.m.; April 8-9 at Science Hill Topper Tournament, Johnson County, Tenn.; April 11, at Paris, 5:30 p.m.; April 12, Garrard County, 6 p.m.; April 14, Bourbon County, 5:30 p.m.; April 15-16 at Capital City Showcase (Frankfort); April 19, at Estill County, 5:30 p.m.; April 21, at Montgomery County, 5:30 p.m.; April 22-23, Big 8 Classic at Cardinal Heights; April 25, East Jessamine, 6 p.m.; April 27, at Bourbon County, 5:30 p.m.; April 29-30 at Western Hills Tournament; May 3, at Franklin County; May 5, Montgomery County, 5:30 p.m.; May 6, vs. Rockcastle County and Madison Southern, 7 and 8:30 p.m.; May 10, Estill County, 6 p.m.; May 12, Johnson Central, 6 p.m.; May 16, Powell County, 6 p.m.; May 17, Woodford County, 5:30 p.m.; May 19, Walton-Verona, 6 p.m.; May 21 vs. South Laurel at Dunbar, 2 p.m.; May 21, at Dunbar, 4 p.m.