Young, scrappy Lady Dawgs eye return to Gulf Shores in 2014

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, February 4, 2014

When asked to describe the Pike County Lady Bulldogs softball team in one word, head coach Karie Striplin chose “young.”

Striplin found the perfect word to describe her team. “We only have one senior,” Striplin said. “We’re loaded with ninth and tenth graders. Both of our pitchers, Chelsea Zellers and Keri Taylor, are underclassmen.”

Last year, the Lady Bulldogs advanced to the regional tournament in Gulf Shores for the first time in a number of years. Pike County dropped its first two games to Geneva and T.R. Miller, but Striplin said the team gained valuable experience that will pay off this year.

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Despite the team’s youth, Striplin thinks her team can make another run to the regional tournament. “One of our goals this year is to get back to Gulf Shores,” Striplin said. “Last year, we made it, but we didn’t win any games. We want to win some games this year. We think we can compete with the best in the state. We’re going to play in tournaments at Carroll and Andalusia. We want to go to those tournaments and win games.”

In order to improve this year, Striplin stressed that the team needed to have some consistency. “We had a good year last year,” Striplin said. “We had a lot of girls come play for us, but, a lot of the time, we had girls out for various reasons. So far this year, the girls have been good about coming to practice. They are all committed to playing.”

With the weather refusing to cooperate, the Lady Dawgs have not had much time out on the diamond, but Striplin said she likes what she has seen so far from the girls. “We have low numbers this year, but we have a lot of talent,” Striplin said. “Our biggest strength on this team is defense. Our biggest weakness is bunting. We’re still stressing the fundamentals right now. We had several good days of hitting clinics during the bad weather. We look good indoors. We’ll see how that translates once we get outdoors.”

At practice on Tuesday, Striplin had the girls working all the fundamentals of baseball—running, fielding, catching, pitching and hitting.

Aside from advancing to the regional tournament in Gulf Shores, Striplin said her team had one other goal for the season. “We want to be county champions,” Striplin said. “So, to do that, we’ll have to bet Goshen. We know that they’ll be good. They only lost one player from last year, but we have high hopes that we can beat them.”

The Lady Bulldogs travel to Goshen for their second game of the season on February 27. The Lady Eagles make the return trip to Brundidge on March 31.