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Lady Panthers sport young squad

CHESAPEAKE – Aaron Rice isn’t sure if he’s the head softball coach or director of the Chesapeake Day Care Center.

Thursday, March 28, 2002

CHESAPEAKE – Aaron Rice isn’t sure if he’s the head softball coach or director of the Chesapeake Day Care Center.

Rice takes over as the Lady Panthers softball coach and he has a team that features only one senior and two juniors. In fact, half the roster is comprised of freshmen.

"There’s going to be a lot of playing time for the young folk," Rice said. "Our biggest concern with the young players is our ability to score runs. We should be all right defensively if we continue to do what we have in practice, but you can’t expect a lot of offense from young players."

The only senior is Kristin Thacker who will play third base and do some pitching.

"Kristin will start at third, but she’ll throw some for us. She’s played for us so she should be one of our better players and provide some leadership," Rice said.

Sophomore Jennifer Rice will provide the bulk of the pitching and play some at shortstop.

"Rice will pitch and play shortstop. She can play anywhere. She is a good catcher, but we need her at shortstop and pitcher. And she can run and hit," coach Rice said.

Junior Samantha Best will be at first base with freshman Alysson Baise getting some playing time.

"Samantha has been doing well. She’s hitting the ball real well," coach Rice said.

Sophomore Jade Hazelett returns at second base and coach Rice said "Jade’s a nice player. She’s a smart player and a solid player."

The shortstop will be either Jennifer Rice or freshman Brittany Boyle depending on who is pitching. If Thacker pitchers, Boyle will shift to third base and Rice to short.

"Brittany has played short or somewhere in the infield coming up through the little leagues. She’s a good defensive player and she’s smart," coach Rice said.

The outfield will have three freshmen with Baise in left, Candace Dickerson in center, and Joanna Delimpo in right.

"If you can play, you can play no matter how old you are. Over the past five years we’ve always had a freshman playing for us," coach Rice said. "Dickerson and Delimpo have real good arms, and Baise isn’t far behind."

Also looking for playing time in the outfield will be junior Heather Curtis, sophomore Amanda Ellis, and freshmen Stephanie Riley, Whitney Roberts, and Katie Johnson.

The catcher will be sophomore Kristyn New who played some outfield and first base last season.

"She got a lot of playing time as a freshman. We expect a lot out of our catchers, but as of right now, she’s doing pretty good for us," coach Rice said.

In the Ohio Valley Conference, Rice said the favorite has to be Fairland.

"They just have so many players back with a pitcher. South Point always has good athletes and they have a lot back, but it’ll all depend on what kind of pitching they get," coach Rice said. "But I think this will be the most competitive year in the league. Rock Hill and Coal Grove have improved their programs."