Lady Vikings hoping to continue tradition

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 3, 2007

AID — The torch has been passed.

Symmes Valley was 25-5 last season and advanced to the Division IV regional tournament. The Lady Vikings were state runners-up the previous season.

But most of the players from those two stellar teams have been lost via graduation.

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19-year veteran head coach Jeff “Odie” Estep, who will be inducted into the coaches Hall of Fame next winter, is faced with the task of getting his current team to continue the tradition.

It won’t be easy.

“We’re young an energetic. It’s a good, young group but this will be an experimental year for us,” Estep said.

The key losses from last season include pitcher Mandi Estep, shortstop Rebecca Capper and catcher Megan Coomes.

“You take those three out of the lineup for us offensively and defensively, and that’s a some really big losses,” Estep said.

Looking to fill the pitching void will be a trio that includes sophomore Libby Ash and freshmen Erica Corn and Nikki Nance.

“Those three are capable. We expect them to be pretty good down the road, but they’re awful young right now,” Estep said.

Youth is an overall problem for the Lady Vikings. The lone senior is third baseman Natasha Pointer.

“She has a steady glove and we’re counting on her offense. She’s started for four years, so we need her to contribute,” Estep said.

Possibly the key returning starter is junior Emily Bowling who shifts from second base to shortstop.

“She’s probably our best all-around athlete,” Estep said. “She’s a started the last two years and she’s probably our best hitter.”

The rest of the infield will probably have sophomore Courtney Nelson or Ash at first base and sophomore Kayla Justice at second base.

Freshman Chelsea Wall is the leading candidate at catcher with freshman Latosha Hatfield possibly getting the call unless she lands in the outfield.

“Wall is a good receiver and Hatfield has speed and a bat,” Estep said. “They’ve both hit well in our scrimmages.”

The outfield is a logjam.

Besides Hatfield, also in the picture are sophomore Hailey Pelletier who shifts from right field to center, and junior Kathryna Myers who takes over in right.

Others expected to push for playing times are Maegan Nance, Nikki Nance (no relation), Kendra Saunders, Tiffany Copley and Corn.

“We’ve got six to eight who can play in the outfield,” Estep said.

Last season the Lady Vikings were 13-1 in the Southern Ohio Conference and tied Portsmouth Clay for the league title. Estep said repeating this year will be a challenge.

“Clay and Green look strong, and Portsmouth Notre Dame could be good. We’re want to get better and we’re hoping to compete in the league,” Estep said.