Haughton softball coach Leanne Shanks calls former coach Hal Harlan “about 15 times a day” asking questions about how to handle something dealing with the Lady Bucs softball team.
Shanks is one of at least seven new head softball coaches at Shreveport and Bossier City area schools, a staggering number of changes based on past seasons.
“We’ve had maybe two or three changes at some point in the past, but I don’t ever remember this many in one year — not even in a two-year period,” said Southwood coach Wade Strother, who has spent 15 seasons on Walker Road, seven as the head coach. “Some of it is due to people changing to a different sport, but I don’t think any of it is due to burn out.”
Other coaching changes locally include Mark Lambert for Emerald Doria at Byrd, Meghan Fisher for Sher Mueller at Evangel, Michelle Owens for Jaymee Jungee at Benton, Kristen Cole for Mike Spence at Loyola, Jennifer Edwards for Lori Kowaleski at North Caddo and Sarah Shelton for Penny Potter at Caddo Magnet.
“I haven’t seen this many changes, but I think it’s good in some ways,” said 20-year North DeSoto coach Lori McFerren. “I’ve been here forever and it helps build a program when you have some consistency.”
Although jamborees were held on Saturday at parks across the area, the regular season begins today with a number of local games on tap. Shanks will lead her charges against Captain Shreve in a 5 p.m. contest at Haughton. She has been leaning Harlan for advice as she continues to transition from assistant coach to head coach.
“The transition has been fairly easy because I just jumped in and took over where coach Harlan left off,” Shanks said. “But I wasn’t accustomed to all the paperwork and the behind-the-scenes stuff that a head coach has to do. I just hope I’m not annoying him with all my calls.”
Haughton, a perennial playoff team, has been noted as a power hitting team in recent years, but that could change this spring.
“We have more speed than we’ve had in the past and we hope to utilize that,” Shanks said. “We still have some power and we feel good about having our pitcher (Anna Dies) back.”
Among the top returning players are 2013 Times Hitter of the Year Alexis Rayborn of Parkway, All-City first team pitcher and Louisiana Tech-signee Carolina Sanchez of Evangel, North Caddo catcher and Louisiana Tech-signee Kassie Harris, Airline shortstop and Louisiana Tech-signee Katie Smith and UT-Tyler signee Jenna Rae Blythe of Northwood.
Haughton’s speed will start with Williams Baptist College-signee Brooke Payton. Other All-City first-team returnees are Tara Schuler and Shelby Spruiell of Byrd, Savannah Collo and Gabby Kespelher of Benton, Caroline Vanchiere of Loyola and Tiffany Williams of Calvary.
Parkway, which advanced to the 5A state tournament in Sulphur last season, lost Times Pitcher of the Year Cheyenne Rogers to graduation, but recently picked up fireballer Samantha Guile, who moved to south Bossier from Michigan. The defending District 1-5A champs finished 19-9 overall after losing to St. Amant in the state quarterfinals. Coach Neil May’s club opens today at Calvary at 6 p.m.
Among the top area players are Times All-Area Pitcher of the Year Amberlee Nix of North Webster, which advanced to the Class 2A quarterfinals. Area Player of the Year Abbey McMillian of Florien helped her team to the Class B state title as a freshman. Katie May, Maddie Burchell and Sami Waters of North DeSoto, along with Mallory Guillotte (Logansport), Caroline Settle (Many), Kim Coleman (Lakeside), Caitlyn Corley/Bailey McCleary (Florien) also return from the all-area team.