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The motto for the Collins softball team this season is “nothing is free.”
The Titans learned that lesson the hard way last season. After winning the 30th District Tournament and advancing to the 8th Region final in their first season (2011), they didn’t make it out of the district tournament last year despite returning all but one key player from that inaugural squad.
Collins graduated six players – five of whom were starters in each of the team’s first two years (the Titans went 23-15 in 2011 and 18-16 in 2012) – in the offseason, but that hasn’t tempered the expectations of new coach Suzanne Cates.
“I think we’ll go far,” she said. “I think we’ll make a lot of noise.”
Cates isn’t the only one who likes her team. Collins was ranked 25th in the Kentucky Softball Coaches Association preseason poll (Oldham County, at No. 6, was the only other 8th Region team in the Top 25).
The Titans will be led by a trio of seniors and a pair of juniors – the only upperclassmen on the varsity roster.
The seniors are Bailey Rankin, Alex Baker and Lauren Shepherd.
“I expect our seniors to lead the way,” Cates said.
Rankin, who has committed to play at Southern University and A&M College, is entering her third year as a starter in the outfield, this season in left field. Meanwhile Baker, at catcher, and Shepherd, at pitcher, will comprise Collins’ battery.
The Titans’ junior twosome is Lindsey Ketcham and Sydney Cloyd. The speedy Ketcham will start in the outfield (this time in center field) for the third consecutive year, and Cloyd, a varsity player since her freshman year, will play first base or be the team’s designated player.
The remainder of the roster is relatively young. Sophomores Shelbi Poehlein (third base) and Danaria Lewis (first base or DP) are likely starters, as are freshmen twins Janette Hayes (shortstop) and Janelle Hayes (outfield).
“There’s definitely a competition for spots right now,” Cates said. “It’s all going to be who hits. We’re building our pitching right now, so we’re going to need a lot of run support this season.”
Freshman Kylie Truelock, eighth-grader Hannah Renfro and seventh-grader Paige Oldham round out the Titans pitching staff.
“I expect us to have some growing pains,” Cates said.
Collins will play a difficult schedule beginning tonight at Oldham County. The Titans will then play at North Oldham at noon Saturday before making their home debut against Western Hills next Tuesday.
Collins at a glance
Last season: 18-16 (lost 7-4 to Anderson County in the 30th District Tournament semifinals).
Coach: Suzanne Cates.
C Alex Baker (senior); UTL Bailey Rankin (senior); P Lauren Shepherd (senior); INF Sydney Cloyd (junior); OF Lindsey Ketcham (junior); INF Blake Holder (sophomore); INF Danaria Lewis (sophomore); INF Shelbi Poehlein (sophomore); OF Sam Veal (sophomore); UTL Janelle Hynes (freshman); UTL Janette Hynes (freshman); P Kylie Truelock (freshman); UTL-P Hannah Renfro (8th); UTL Hannah Stumbo (8th); P Paige Oldham (7th).
Today – at Oldham County, 6 p.m.; 16 – at North Oldham, noon; 19 – WESTERN HILLS, 5:30 p.m.; 21 – SOUTHERN, 6 p.m.; 22 – vs. Spencer County in TSOA Tournament at Meade County, 7 p.m.; 23 – vs. Male in TSOA Tournament at Meade County, 9 a.m.; 23 – at Meade County in TSOA Tournament, 10:30 a.m.; 25 – at Christian Academy of Louisville, 5:30 p.m.; 26 – at Bullitt East, 6 p.m.; 28 – FERN CREEK, 5:30 p.m.; 29-30 – at Oldham County Tournament.
5 – vs. Butler County at Woodford County Escape, 1:30 p.m.; 5 – vs. Central Hardin at Woodford County Escape, 3 p.m.; 6 – vs. TBD at Woodford County Escape, TBA; 8 – EASTERN, 5:30 p.m.; 9 – at Sacred Heart, 5:30 p.m.; 11 – at Shelby County, 5:30 p.m.; 12 – vs. Franklin County in Capital City Classic in Frankfort, 5:30 p.m.; 13 – vs. Butler in Capital City Classic in Frankfort, 9 a.m.; 13 – vs. La Rue County in Capital City Classic in Frankfort, noon; 15 – ANDERSON COUNTY, 6 p.m.; 16 – GALLATIN COUNTY, 5:30 p.m.; 18 – at Ballard, 5:30 p.m.; 22 – CARROLL COUNTY, 6 p.m.; 23 – OWEN COUNTY, 5:30 p.m.; 25 – BULLITT CENTRAL, 5:30 p.m.
2 – at Walton-Verona, 6 p.m.; 6 – at Spencer County, 6 p.m.; 7 – at Lexington Catholic, 6 p.m.; 9 – JEFFERSONTOWN, 5:30 p.m.; 10 – vs. Ryle in Lady Chargers Classic at Jeffersontown, 8 p.m.; 11 – vs. TBD in Lady Chargers Classic at Jeffersontown, TBA; 13 – TRIMBLE COUNTY, 6 p.m.; 14 – at Anderson County, 5:30 p.m.; 16 – NELSON COUNTY, 6 p.m.; 18 – vs. John Hardin at Manual, 10 a.m.; 18 – vs. Henderson County at Manual, 1:30 p.m.