New faces in new places will be the theme for the Lake Center Christian softball team. More than half of the team's 13 players are new to the squad and head coach Randy Floyd is also in his first year.
After a 4-14-1 season in 2011, the Tigers must cope with a massive turnover of their roster due to graduation losses and other factors. That places the onus for leadership squarely on the five returning players to lead the way.
The top performers for the Tigers heading into the new year are sophomore pitcher Amanda Floyd, junior catcher Morgen Kyser, sophomore shortstop Emily Hofer and senior third baseman Anna McMullen.
McMullen is the team's lone senior and will be counted upon heavily as a leader. Floyd and Kyser teamed up last year to form the LCCS battery and will need to be consistently solid again this year for the Tigers to succeed. The duo has played together in youth and travel ball since an early age, with Randy Floyd their coach on many of those teams.
"I've coached those two since they were six, maybe seven years old," Floyd said of his daughter and her friend.
With such a young team, Randy Floyd knows his team will take his lumps, especially in the early season, as players learn what he expects of them and adjust to what is for many of them their first look at varsity competition.
"It's going to take a while for them to adjust," Floyd said. "It will take some learning and they'll have to grow up fast in order to be able to play the style of softball that we want to play."
Their youth will undoubtedly work against the Tigers at times, but can also be a valuable asset. With freshman and sophomores who have an extra boost of energy and bounce-back, the Tigers should be a resilient group.
"We've got a great group of young ladies and they're going to be up and down at times because we're so young," Floyd admitted.
One advantage Floyd will have is spending last season as an assistant to longtime LCCS coach Tom White. Coupled with his experience as the president of the Springfield Township Youth softball and baseball leagues, he has a solid grasp on his team and also on the style of play he wants to see from them.
He also has a background playing men's fast pitch and will use that competitive drive to propel his team as they battle along the challenging road ahead.
"I like aggressive baserunning and we'll do that when we have a chance. But the main focus will be for us to be solid on defense, having everyone backing each other up and playing solid, fundamental softball," Floyd said. "What's exciting with so many young players is that we're gonna have an opportunity to build more for the coming years."
Page 2 of 2 - With the battery of Floyd and Kyser and Hofer filling the role of No. 2 starter, the Tigers have a good base and will need to bring their hard hats in the weeks ahead as they seek to construct a successful season while building a program capable of long-term success.