As the sound of the roundball on the hardwood begins to fade and the temperatures begin to warm up, the high school sports world returns to the outdoors. Next week the Powell County Lady Pirates will hit the diamond for another season of softball action.
Powell is once again looking to capture a district title, but this season the theme is “youth.” Of the 22 girls on the roster, 13 of them are sophomores and freshmen. Of the remaining nine, only three starters return and a total of five saw any significant varsity action. But that does not mean Head Coach David Faulkner is not looking forward to the challenge of a tough district and region with such a young team.
“I am very excited about the 2019 Powell County High School Softball team. We are a mix of very experienced players and really young talent,” Faulkner said as he prepares for the season. “We lost a bunch of great players last year but return three starters and two part time starters. The rest are some very talented newcomers.”
The Lady Pirates do return some experience at key spots. “We return Mckayla Rucker and Emily Branham, two outstanding seniors, along with Lyndsey Willoughby and Carli Salchli and new, but talented, Ashley King, all seniors,” Faulkner stated as he looked at his roster. Rucker has been starting since halfway through her seventh grade year and is considered a threat on defense at shortstop and at the plate with power. Branham adds the triple threat of defensive skills at third base, pitching and her speed on the base paths.
“We have four juniors, six sophomores and seven freshmen. The newcomers to the roster are Ashley King, Lauren Payne, and all the freshmen. Also back with us this year is sophomore Maddie Brandenburg,” Faulkner added. “Our pitching will be led by sophomore Kelly Bloom, who has shown much improvement and added some pitches to her repertoire. Hard throwing Emily Branham and newcomers to pitching, Maddie Brandenburg, Katie Brooks along with freshmen Laken Kincaid and Madisyn Combs, makes the circle fun for us and Pitching Coach, Meghan Mays.”
Trying to get the right chemistry and lineup on the field may take a little time to figure out. It should also be exciting for he coaching staff. Faulkner has been at the helm for 19 seasons, he was an assistant for four years before that. Mays begins her fifth season as an assistant and will coach the JV team. Assistant Coach James Cook has been with the team 12 years. Preparations for the season are what the coaching staff gets the most excited about.
“Of the 22 players we have at least 15 who are in the mix for starting spots, which is what I see as exciting, as they push each other every day in practice.” Faulkner said.
“We have a difficult schedule, as always, including four tournaments and a few triangles,” he added as he looks ahead to the start of the season. “We will have a very tough district with always tough Estill County, Lee County and improving, Owsley County,” Faulkner added.
The Lady Pirates will start their season next Tuesday at Wolfe County. The first home game will be Mar. 25 against Owsley County.
The Lady Pirates 2019 Roster looks like this: Seniors- Emily Branham, Ashley King, McKayla Rucker, Carli Salchli and Lyndsey Willoughby. Juniors: Kenzi Dalton, Rylei Mays, Lauren Payne, and Brookynn Smith. Sophomores: Keeley Anderson, Leigh Anna Ballard, Kelly Bloom, Maddie Brandenburg, Katie Brooks and Sierra Wicox. Fr: Amber Brooks, Madisyn Combs, Pressley Hall, Laken Kincaid, Abby Napier, Kairi Wickline and Breanna Wilcox.