Times Sports Editor
The Northview softball program has been one of the area's best over the last several years and the Knights are planning on continuing that success in 2012.
The Knights won 20 games last year and return much of that nucleus to make a run at another Western Indiana Conference title and to claim a postseason title in a tough sectional field.
Four of Northview's seven losses last year came to either Terre Haute North or South and when a defeat to North Central (Farmersburg) is added, it's plain to see that the Wabash Valley contains a wealth of talent. Terre Haute North is the defending sectional champion and a team that the Knights went 1-2 against last year, including a 4-3 sectional championship game loss.
Coach Bethany Jones feels that the Knights have continued to improve over the offseason and are prepared to change its postseason fate of 2011.
"The team has learned a lot since our last game in the sectional championship. Working on the mental game has helped the team become more confident," Jones said. "We have also focused on our hitting and our pitchers have been working hard as well."
Returning to the lineup is the team's top hitter and pitcher from last year as junior Taylor Carter anchors the offense after blistering opposing hurlers to the tune of a .521 average, 42 RBIs and 17 extra base hits. She slugged .750 for the Knights and scored 17 times. Carter, a verbal commit to East Tennessee State, was 17-5-1 in the circle with a 1.20 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 134 innings. She also walked just 27 while allowing only 72 hits overall.
Jones feels that her team's defense and pitching will each be strengths this season and has seen improvements offensively as well.
Carter will have plenty of returning talent around her in the lineup as shortstop Alyssa Conrad returns after hitting .458 at the top of the lineup and scoring a team-high 33 times and driving in 19 runs.
Taylor's biggest improvement is the confidence she has gained in her pitching. She has also developed two more pitches since last year that will give her ball more movement. Carter will also get a break in the circle as freshman Whitney Halfhill and sophomore Jensen Swaim will get a chance to prove themselves.
Replacing Hughes at second base will likely be freshman Tori Tilley.
Freshmen will play some key roles this year for the Knights as Whitney Halfhill, Madison Nevins and Tilley are expected to fill varsity roles.
"We have a good freshmen class this year that works hard and brings a lot of tenacity to the team," Jones said.
Halfhill will likely take over in rightfield and see some time in the circle as well and Nevins could split time at second base along with Tilley.
Senior Kylie McKee returns at third base and hit .254 with 14 runs scored and 14 RBI's for the Knights.
In the outfield, Samantha Montague will get time in leftfield with Kindra Cox also likely to get time. Junior Hope Torbert returns in centerfield after hitting .333 with 14 RBI and 11 runs scored.
In chasing a sectional title, the Knights have their work cut out for them as North and South both return plenty of talent and are getting honorable mention votes in the pre-season polls along with WIC foe Edgewood, which is ranked No. 7 in Class 3A after a 25-7 mark. In Class 2A, North Central (Farmersburg) is also receiving honorable mention consideration. Defending Class 2A state champion South Putnam returns all but one player from its 28-1 squad last year.
"Softball has really developed into a dominating sport. There are several competitive teams in the Wabash Valley," Jones said. "I feel that this team has great chemistry this year. If we can make the plays and stay focused offensively, the coaches see our team being successful."
Northview opens up the season on April 3 when the Knights play host to Martinsville at 5 p.m.
2012 Varsity softball schedule
|Tue. April 3||vs. Martinsville||5 p.m.|
|Thur. April 5||at Linton||5 p.m.|
|Fri. April 6||at Miss Softball America||TBA|
THS Braves Bash
|Sat. April 7||At Miss Softball America||TBA|
THS Braves Bash
|Mon. April 9||at Bloom. South||6 p.m.|
|Tue. April 10||at Clay City||4:30 p.m.|
|Thur. April 12||vs. Shakamak||5 p.m.|
|Fri. April 13||at Jasper Invite||TBA|
|Sat. April 14||at Jasper Invite||TBA|
|Mon. April 16||at Plainfield||5:30 p.m.|
|Tue. April 17||vs. Sullivan||5 p.m.|
|Tue. April 24||at Brown County||6 p.m.|
|Thur. April 26||vs. Mooresville||5 p.m.|
|Tue. May 1||vs. West Vigo||5 p.m.|
|Thur. May 3||vs. Bloom. North||5 p.m.|
|Fri. May 4||at Edgewood||5 p.m.|
|Sat. May 5||Big Four Tourney||10 a.m.|
At Northview H.S.
|Mon. May 7||Riverton Parke||5 p.m.|
|Tue. May 8||at S.Vermillion||5 p.m.|
|Wed. May 9||at North Central||5 p.m.|
|Fri. May 11||vs. Owen Valley||5 p.m.|
|Tue. May 16||vs. T.H. North||5 p.m.|
|Sat. May 19||at Boonville Tourney||10 a.m.|
|Mon. May 21||Sectional Week|
|Tue. May 22||Sectional Week|
|Wed. May 23||Sectional Week|