High expectations for Lady Bulldogs’ softball

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 2, 2016

With the 2016 AHSAA softball season approaching, the Andalusia Lady Bulldogs have hit the practice field with intensity and high hopes for the upcoming year.

“We just started practicing on Monday,” Lady Bulldogs’ head coach Anthony Mikel said. “The weather has hindered us a bit, but we have been outside a few days and a few days we stayed inside the facility and did some hitting.”

With a few key players from last year’s roster having graduated, Mikel said there will be some new faces all over the field.

Millie Manring returns for her third season as the Lady Bulldogs' starting catcher.

Millie Manring returns for her third season as the Lady Bulldogs’ starting catcher.

“We are having to figure out a couple of positions,” Mikel said. “We will have a new face at shortstop and we are searching for a new right fielder.

Along with the players lost to graduation, Mikel said that the team has also been battling injuries.

“It’s not just the seniors we are having to replace,” Mikel said. “The season hasn’t even started and we already have three girls out with season-ending injuries.”

One of the players that will be stepping up to fill an open pitching spot will be freshman Mary Katherine Salter.

“MK will be one our top two pitchers this season,” Mikel said. “She is good pitcher and she is a lefty.”

Another pitching spot, Mikel said, would go to seventh grader Syndey Ray, who is also a lefty.

“We will have two lefties going for us this year,” Mikel said. “That’s pretty rare, and if we had our other lefty healthy we would have three. That is unheard of, especially in 4A.”

Along with the two young pitchers, Mikel said that Lady Bulldogs’ starters would include a number of underclassmen.

“Going to have a some young ones come in and help us out,” Mikel said. “We have a relatively young team and we have a pretty tough schedule this year, but I’m looking for some good things to come from these girls. I’ve already seen a lot of good things this week.”

One of the underclassman that Mikel said is a big part of the team is sophomore catcher Millie Manring. Manring has been the starting catching for the Lady Bulldogs for the past two seasons.

Andalusia’s senior class includes Jessica Peacock, Jasmine Bryant and Merikal McCaskill. The only junior on the roster is Haley Harper, and the rest are underclassmen.

The Lady Bulldogs will start their season Feb. 23, when they host the Kinston Lady Bulldogs.

“I’ve got faith in this whole bunch,” Mikel said. “We are going to come out of the gate getting after it and never let up. We are going to have fun, get better and learn from last year. That’s all we can do.”

The Lady Bulldogs’ junior high team will start the season in the Brantley tournament Feb. 19-20.