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By Marlana Smith
Donny Williams may not have high school coaching experience, but he has worked with many girls on the North Shelby softball team.
Williams coached these girls at some point in the past summers since they were five or six years old. Williams coached junior high football for five years but took a break last year.
“What we want is to play in the District Championship. That is what we want to get our girls ready for,” Williams expressed.
The Lady Raiders are coming off a 13-4 season coached by Haley Hardy. Hardy was head coach for eight years and assisted for two.
Amanda Cook will assist Williams. She has been a Assistant Coach for eight years.
North Shelby started practice on August 9, with 16 members. Seven of the nine who will be on the field are returning starters. North Shelby lost seniors but gained two freshmen. This year, Jaylea Barrick is the only senior on the team.
“For a first year as Head Coach it’s a nice team to walk into,” Williams expressed.
The Lady Raiders have been working to strengthen their offense.
“We are trying to get 100 good, quality swings in a day and defensively we have been taking a lot of fly balls and grounders,” said Williams.
Junior Natalie Thrasher pitched for the Lady Raiders most of last season. On the mound for 97 innings, she faced 386 batters walking only six and throwing 100 K’s.
Williams said Whitney Snow has worked hard in the off-season and he feels like she is going to help take some of the load off Thrasher. Williams even looks to having freshman, Addy Uhlmeyer get some looks too.
Sophomore Marissa McEwen will return behind the plate.
Williams feels that all players on the team are solid athletes.
Junior Meg Shively will continue her role on first base for the third year in a row. Junior Ceirra Kirby will move from left field to second base and Caroline Linberger, a junior, will slide off to shortstop. Snow will play third base when Thrasher is pitching. With a strong outfield, Ava Williams, a junior, will take right field, while junior Chesnie Robbins, will take on her role in center field.
“I think Chesnie is the most knowledge softball player I’ve got. She’s got a good grasp for the game,” Coach Williams said. “If you listen to her out in practice, she knows what she is doing.”
Coach Williams said all the Lady Raiders are starting to get their voice and there is a lot of experience out on the field.
“This is a very competitive group. I think we will be competitive in every game. I feel if things go right, and we get our offense going, I feel we could be a team that could contend,” said Donny. “It’s whether the bats wake up.”