BY MIKE URSERY
The Higbee Lady Tigers have one goal in 2018 — to finish the year with a winning record.
Head coach Amy Pottebaum’s Lady Tigers went 2-13 in 2017 with a team that was fairly young and inexperienced. This season, Higbee has seven starters returning, and the team is primed to make improvements from last season.
“So far, we’ve been working really well as a team, and I feel like our biggest fault last year was working together well,” Pottebaum said. “We seem to be meshing well. There’s going to be a couple of different starters in different positions than they were last year. We’ve also been working on our hitting, and hopefully that can be a big plus this year.”
The position change will be at third base and shortstop. Senior Shelby Clark was the team’s starting third baseman in 2017. She is making the switch to short. Junior Devin Clark will go to third. Pottebaum said she had the two change positions during the summer softball scrimmage season, and it worked.
Shelby Clark returns as the team’s top hitter from last season. She hit a .411/.450/.500 triple-slash line in 2017 with four extra-base hits. She was one of two returning players who hit above .300 last season.
“We seemed to struggle getting base runners and getting runs in,” Pottebaum said. “Hopefully this year we can be more consistent (at hitting).”
Shelby Clark is one of three seniors on Pottebaum’s roster. The other two are catcher Grace Westfall and first baseman Alexis Whisenand.
Shelby Clark and Westfall each scored a team-high 18 runs last season.
Higbee finished with a team-average .369 on-base percentage last season. They averaged 4.95 runs per game, while allowing 12.9 runs per game.
Pottebaum said the inexperience from last season showed in the way the team played. When one thing went wrong during a game, it built up into something much bigger, Pottebaum said.
“At the end of the season, we were starting to play well together and we were starting to hit the ball well,” Pottebaum said. “It kind of worked that way in the summer, too. Towards the end of the (summer) season, we were hitting better. Hopefully that carries over into this season. That’s where I think those seniors are going to help build that.”
Lexi Boyd is the newest player on the roster. She transferred to Higbee from Westran after the conclusion of the 2017 softball season. Pottebaum said Boyd will start in center field, and will also pitch from the circle for the Lady Tigers.
Izzy Boggs is another player who will see significant time at pitcher. She pitched 46.2 innings last season, compiling 74 walks and 30 strikeouts.
“Her biggest thing was walks,” Pottebaum said about Boggs last season. “When she would get a couple walks, it would just be a couple more and we couldn’t get her back. She’s really worked hard over the summer on her accuracy and her mental game.”
Rounding out the rest of the starting lineup, Pottebaum expects to pencil in Julie Johnson at second base, Victoria Gipson in left field and Macey Whisenand in right.
Higbee’s season begins on Aug. 25 with the Keytesville Tournament. Seedings and game times were not available at press time.
After the Keytesville Tournament, Higbee opens at home on Aug. 27 with a game against Northwestern (Mendon). The start time of the game is to be determined.