Lady Cats must rebuild on the run after graduation losses

Published 5:54 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2024

By John Henson

Sports Writer

After watching their win total improve from three in 2021 to 11 in 2022 and 16 last spring, the Bell County Lady Cats know they have some rebuilding time ahead of this spring after losing five players from a year ago, including standout pitcher Malaya Ausmus and shortstop Jordan Muncy.

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“We lost four senior starters from last year. Those girls had been a big part of our team, especially Taya,” Bell County coach David Teague said. “She had pitched for us the last three years and threw basically every pitch we had.”

The Lady Cats have started slow with the graduation losses with a 1-5 mark going into Tuesday’s game against Williamsburg.

“We have some young kids who are getting their first varsity experience. They have played, but not on the varsity level,” Teague said. “We hope they get some experience and can get going quickly.”

“The big thing now is we have to hit the ball consistently,” Teague said. “Our pitchers have done a decent job and our fielding has been OK, but we have to be able to hit the ball throughout the lineup. You have to be able to put some runs on the board.”

Ausmus had a 13-8 record last season with an earned run average of 3.61 and 148 strikeouts in 124 innings. Camdyn Thomas, a senior, pitched in only seven games last year, but had an earned run average of only 0.88 and will share the pitching duties this year with freshman Addison Scott.

“Camdyn has some experience and is a senior and is one of our leaders,” Teague said. “I think Addison has a bright future ahead of her. She’s left-handed and that’s a little different look. She just has to keep working and get that experience in those varsity games.”

Jayda Boateng, an eighth-grade shortstop, is the top returning player for Bell after leading the team in hitting last year with a .587 average that included team highs in hits with 44, RBI with 37 and doubles with 13.

“She is probably our best all-around player back from last year defensively and hitting,” Teague said. “She was one of the better middle school players playing varsity in the region. She does a lot of stuff for us.”

Addison Maiden, a sophomore, is back in center after posting a .414 average last year with 29 hits and 22 steals in 23 attempts.

Kylee Greer-Gann, a junior, is the catcher after hitting .458 last year with 27 hits and 13 RBI. Thomas, who hit .329 last year with 24 hits and 17 RBI, will see action at first base in addition to pitching.

Addison Lucas, a sophomore, is back at third base after hitting .232 last year with 13 hits and 16 RBI. Kenley Foster, a sophomore second baseman, is off to a strong start this year, with four hits in a win over Berea on Saturday.

Two other freshmen could also win starting jobs with Abby Farmer at first base or the outfield and Jaelynn Reeder in the outfield.

Teague expects the 52nd District to be balanced once again this year after a 2023 season when every team in the district had at least three district losses.

“I don’t know who would be considered the favorite. Middlesboro has won it the last couple of years, so I guess they’re the team to beat,” Teague said. “All the teams have some strengths and weaknesses. It will probably come down to who is playing well at that time in a couple of months. I think it could go any direction.”