PLAS offense leads charge into big week

Published 11:20 pm Monday, April 2, 2012

With a week of big games, not to mention a road match against the top team in the state, the Pike Liberal Arts School softball team (7-6, 4-5) will be looking toward the offense to give them an edge.

The Patriots will bring a solid lineup of diverse batters to the field this week, each of who have shown they are ready to meet the challenge.

Leading off is Kayla Benton, a freshman catcher, then Ellie Barron, who leads the team in RBIs and brings in some needed consistency.

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“Benton is just a ninth grader but has been our lead-off hitter all season,” Patriots head coach Tim Davenport said. “She’s been doing well almost every game and has been able to get on base and score. She also hits from the left side batter’s box and we haven’t had many players lately do that.”

Conleigh Gilmore recently moved up to third in the order and is another of the team’s left-handers, who Davenport says can “spray the ball all over the field and put it in play and along with Benton and Barron in front is able to drive in some runs.”

J.J. Jones represents another steady hand in the Patriot lineup and brings in some solid experience for the team, while Shelby Baggett has overcome some early struggles to be a top performer.

“Baggett has been up and down this season and went from third to sixth in our lineup,” Davenport said. “She’s good at hitting the ball where it’s pitched and right now probably has the highest slugging and on-base percentage on the team.”

The Patriots will need the help of their entire lineup if they hope to survive the three games they play this week, starting with a Tuesday match against number one Macon-East.

Macon-East is undefeated so far this season; having defeated the Patriots earlier this year, and a strong performance on the plate will be a big factor in the upcoming game.

“We’ve got to keep them from scoring first of all,” Davenport said. “We played a good defense against them last time but they’ve got hitters that will knock it out of the park. We’ve got to hit with them but it won’t be easy, we only got two hits last time so we’ve got to improve.”

After Macon-East the Patriots will square off at home against Autauga on Thursday followed by Glenwood on Saturday, the latter of which has won three previous state titles.

To get the offense in prime shape for the tough remainder of the season, the patriots have spent a lot of time in the batting cages to get as many swings in as possible.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in the cage on both live and soft toss,” Davenport said. “We’ve been able to get a lot of swings in and work on our hand-eye coordination. It’s helped us in big games when we needed a big hit and we’ve been able to go to the plate ready to get a hit.”

The Patriots will play Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Macon-East and will be back at home on Thursday to play Autauga at 3:30 p.m.