Coming out swinging

Posted on Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 9:00 am

Junior Katie Harlow will be counted on as a powerful hitter, commanding pitcher and deft shortstop this season for Louisa. Photo by Chan Powell

Junior Katie Harlow will be counted on as a powerful hitter, commanding pitcher and deft shortstop this season for Louisa. Photo by Chan Powell

It never seems to be about rebuilding for Louisa’s softball team. The more appropriate term would be reloading.

But after losing three key players from last year’s 14-4 team, graduating seniors Brittany Wratchford, McKenzie Riner and Katelyn Chisholm, fourth-year head coach Dan Barrett knows there’s plenty to be replaced as the team begins holding practices for the upcoming season.

“As a coaching staff, we’ve been looking at different ways, and it’s going to be hard,” Barrett said. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to replace the three seniors we’ve lost with one person…They all had attributes to the team offensively and defensively.”

Last year’s squad went 9-1 in the district and was led by the dominant pitching of Wratchford, who has since gone on to play at Radford. Finding a way to fill that hole in the roster won’t be easy. Wratchford was 12-3 with a .79 E.R.A. She added 104 stikeouts as the ace pitcher for the Lady Lions last season. She also took the Jefferson Distict pitcher of the year honors in 2013 as well.

While returning junior Katie Harlow has experience on the mound, Barrett said the jury is still out on whether Harlow or one of three other newcomers  – a freshman trio of Hannah Fletcher, Abbey Hudson and Taylor Robinson – will take over the dirt on opening day.

“I think throughout the season we’re going to have to rely on each of them differently,” Barrett said. “As we head into the season, I won’t say it’s a weakness, I’d just say it’s an unknown.”

Harlow will split her time between pitching and playing shortstop, a position where she qualified for first team All-District last season. When not on the mound, she’ll join a talented but raw Louisa infield. Senior Morgan Kocolis, a three-year starter for the team, will provide some much-needed experience for the group, who will likely have to start sophomore Sarah Sharpe or a freshman in either Hudson or Robinson at various points throughout the season.

Behind the plate, the Lady Lions have four-year starter Chrissy Cromer. Last year, Cromer made second team All-District, and Barrett said he expects her to be the best in the business this season.

To  read the entire story, see the March 6 edition of The Central Virginian.

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