Going from bad to average didn’t seem to be a very difficult step for the Harlan Lady Dragons, who improved from 3-14 in 2011 to 15-17 in 2012 in Scott Lewis’ first season as coach
Taking the next step, from average to good, wasn’t quite so easy. Harlan showed some progress with a young team but it didn’t show up in the win column as the Lady Dragons posted a 15-15 mark.
“If we don’t really improve this year we will miss a heck of an opportunity,” said Lewis. “I think they have the skills now. We don’t have to spend as much time on fundamentals now.
“I hope they get that mentality they want to be a top team. It’s tough to change that mentality after you’ve been a team that won only four or five games a year. I’d love to see them get a little more fight, to go in there to beat teams. It seems they are content. We need the attitude that we are there to win.”
Balance and experience should both be strengths for the Lady Dragons with eight players back who played in at least 19 games in 2013.
“Our talent base is pretty equal,” Lewis said. “We don’t have any standout, superstar players, but we have some good ballplayers. The key is to play together as a team and unite. We’ve got to have a little better offense because our pitchers will keep us in the game. We have to play small ball. They’re good with the bat and have good speed.”
Pitching should be a strength for Harlan with junior Madison Noe and sophomore Madison Brewer expected to share duties on the mound once again. Noe was 10-7 last season with a 2.52 earned run average. Brewer was 5-7 with a 5.41 earned run average.
“Madison has played since the seventh grade. They are both talented pitchers. They won’t overwhelm anybody, but they each have three or four pitches and do a good job,” Lewis said. “A pitcher can really make a big difference in this sport.”
As in basketball, where she was a five-year starter, senior Jourdan Ledford is the most experienced of the Lady Dragons as she returns at third base. Ledford hit .303 last year and drove in 20 runs.
“She is our rock. She has been there forever,” Lewis said. “She had a big season for us last year, and I look for her to have a big senior season. I’m hoping that’s the mentality she brings to us.”
Anna Karst, a junior, is back at first base. Karst was second in hitting last year at .340, in runs with 27 and in hits with 34.
“She is a good hitter, does a good job at first and is a good all-around player,” Lewis said. “She is consistent at the plate.”
Noe is back at second base and the leadoff spot where she led the team in several categories last season, including hits with 43, total bases with 62 and in stolen bases with 23.
“Madison is a consistent hitter who makes good contact. She is aggressive on the base paths and can make things happen for us when she gets on,” Lewis said. “Maddie and Anna do a good job at the top of the lineup.”
Several freshmen are in the mix to replace Torri Mitchell at shortstop. Mitchell, who hit .307 last year with a team-high 22 RBI, is unable to play this season due to lingering shoulder problems. Jesse Cochran, Andi Saragas and Madison Owens are the leading candidates at shortstop.
“They are all good with the glove and they are all quick,” Lewis said. “They are all energetic and want to play.”
Kaitlin Jenkins, a sophomore, is back as the catcher. Jenkins hit .260 last season
“She is very athletic,” Lewis said. “She just got back from basketball, but I think she will be very good for us this year.”
Kaylee McNiel and Alyssa Mills, the other seniors on the roster besides Ledford, will fill two starting slots in the outfield. McNiel hit .260 and Mills hit .198. Mills could also see action at shortstop.
“Kaylee has done a real good job for us starting out in practice this year, and Alyssa is quick and can help us in center or shortstop,” said Lewis.
Candidates in right field include sophomore Shanae Thomas and freshman Sydney Helton.
Lady Dragons roster
Grade Name Position
12 Jourdan Ledford 3B
12 Kaylee McNiel OF
12 Alyssa Mills SS, OF
11 Anna Karst 1B
11 Torri Mitchell OF, SS
11 Kylie Noah C, 2B
11 Madison Noe P, SS
10 Madison Brewer P, 2B
10 Amber Fee 1B
10 Kaitlin Jenkins C, OF
10 Katie King 3B, OF
10 Shanae Thomas OF, 3B
9 Madison Owens OF, 2B
9 Sydney Helton OF, 2B
9 Jesse Cochran SS, OF
9 Lauren Shoemaker 1B
9 Tiffany Hampton OF
9 Andi Saragas OF, SS
Lady Dragons schedule
March 14 Knox Central L, 7-6
March 20 at Lynn Camp W, 16-6
March 21 Cumberland Gap, Tenn. L, 1-0
March 24 All “A” Classic
Oneida Baptist W, 15-5
March 29 at Leslie County
March 29 vs Powell County (at Leslie Co.)
April 10 Pineville
April 11 at Middlesboro
April 12 Harlan County
April 14 at Cumberland Gap, Tenn.
April 15 at Barbourville
April 17 Letcher Central
April 19 at Williamsburg (DH)
April 21 Middlesboro
April 22 at Bell County
April 25 Wizard of Oz Tournament at Letcher Central
April 29 at Pineville
May 1 Barbourville
May 6 Bell County
May 8 Knox Central
May 9 Leslie County
May 10 at Jackson County (DH)
May 12 at Harlan County
May 13 Letcher Central
May 15 Lynn Camp
May 16 at Jenkins