Panthers on the prowlPublished 8:48pm Wednesday, March 6, 2013
PINETOWN — The pieces are there. How they all fit together will go a long way in determining the success of the Northside softball team in 2013.
The Panthers have cause for optimism this season as they return seven starters from last year’s squad that hovered around .500 and finished one spot below a Camden team that made it all the way to state.
Add to the mix exciting and talented freshmen such as pitcher Kelsey Lang, infielder McKenzie Swain and outfielder Mariah Stanley, and Panthers coach Jack Beirne enough ingredients to cook up some excitement.
“Our strength is that we have some young talent coming in that can learn from our veteran players,” Beirne said. “We’re going to be able to mix some new excitement with our veterans and I think we will be competitive.”
The Panthers have a long list of upperclassmen returning to the diamond as Brittney Alligood, Jordan Woolard, Caroline Slade, Jessica Cleary, Alex Cutler, Cheyenne Franks and Tayonya Stanley are all back for another season.
While Northside has plenty of familiar faces, they may not all be in familiar places as Woolard, a former shortstop, will begin the year at center field and the versatile Alligood will look to replace graduated first baseman Rachel Hollowell.
Stanley is expected to resume second base duties, while Cutler, Franks and Cleary will compete for time in the corner outfield spots.
On the left side of the infield, Slade, Alex Adams and Swain will compete for time at shortstop and third base, while freshman Kendall Alligood is slated to be the starting catcher.
With a large portion of his roster having played basketball, Beirne is still in the process of evaluating his players and stressed that every position is still wide open.
One position that appears to be locked down however is starting pitcher, where Lang has wowed early on.
“She has six pitches and she can throw them all for strikes,” Beirne said. “She’s not overpowering but she’s effective. She reminds me a lot of Lillyann Arnold. She’s somebody we’re going to count on to be right around the strike zone.”
Beirne also praised Lang’s ability to field her position and said thanks to her bat there will be plenty of nights where she helps her own cause.
At the plate, Northside’s lineup is as versatile as its defense and features a good mix of speed, power and slap hitters which should lend itself to an exciting brand of ball.
“We’re going to do more slapping this year,” Beirne said. “We’ve brought some girls on that are going to change the way we play the game. We have more speed and we will be more exciting.”