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Young Lady Panthers must improve defense

CHESAPEAKE — For now, the Chesapeake Lady Panthers are taking baby steps, mainly because that’s the only kind of steps they can take.

With a roster jammed full of freshmen and sophomores, Lady Panthers head coach Aaron Rice is taking things slowly with his youthful squad.

“We start four freshmen and three sophomores, so we’re young,” Rice said.

“Defensively we do okay and we’ve been swinging the bats good. Our pitchers are freshmen and throwing well. Defensive mistakes have been our downfall. We have too many unearned runs.”

The only seniors are catcher Kati McCallister and centerfielder Bria Ratcliff. Rice said the two have been instrumental in the team’s success with their leadership.

“Those two have been great, especially with so many young guys in there. The team chemistry has been good. They get along well and they work hard,” Rice said.

Pitching has been a key point for the Lady Panthers. Freshmen Sidney Boyle and Allison Chapman have shared the duties along with playing first base.

“Chapman is a lefty and gives us a little different look. She’s thrown well. Sidney’s been sick and she’s working her way back. It’s been pretty even between them,” Rice said.

The infield has Casey Kirk, a freshman, at second base with Nikki Lindsey at shortstop and Shelby Pike at third base. Both are sophomores.

Flanking Ratcliff in the outfield are sophomore Hannah Henderson in left and freshman Courtney Heffner in right.

“We knew going in we were going to be young and we were going to rely on how well we play defensively and how well our pitchers do. Our pitchers have done well. We just need to be more consistent on defense,” Rice said.