Which word would Kyle Ingram use to describe the 2014 Richmond softball season?
“Exciting,” said the veteran Red Devil coach.
Ingram has several reasons to be excited for the upcoming season, including a strong mix of experienced players and newcomers.
“I think with the influx of the freshman group we have coming in, which is one of the better ones we’ve had in 10 years, it kind of re-energizes us as a staff,” Ingram said. “It gives us an opportunity to teach, coach and watch some of the younger kids grow into our system.”
Ingram praised his returning players, saying they’ve shown initiative.
“They’ve done a good job of explaining some things we do,” he said. “It kind of gave us a head start.”
Returning players include Ciara Jordan, Mackenzie Taylor, Elissa Tilton, Keara Henderson, Grace Townsend, Sydney Townsend and Chloe Bennett.
Taylor is a shortstop, with Jordan at second base and pitching. Tilton pitches and also plays in the outfield, while Henderson is a catcher and utility player, Grace Townsend a first baseman and outfielder and Sydney Townsend and Bennett both outfielders.
Other expected contributors include Casey St. Clair, a transfer from Lincoln who plays outfield, Brooklyn Vickers, Ryanne Spicer, Paityn Farris, Keryn Siler, Hannah Goddard, Hannah Newland and Jessica Richardson.
“This is a good group,” Ingram said. “It’s a great mix of experienced players with some new kids we’re going to welcome into the program. We’re going to be as a staff re-energized from a standpoint that we get a chance to teach and coach and watch kids grow and prosper within the program.”
Ingram expects pitching to be a strength for the Red Devils, noting the team’s depth from the circle.
Tilton posted a 7-3 record in 62 innings pitched last season. She had a 3.16 ERA with 62 strikeouts.
“We have three or four kids we really think can help us at any given time, so it won’t be entirely on one person’s shoulders,” Ingram said.
Taylor batted .421 in 2013 with a team-high 28 runs scored, 11 RBIs and five doubles. Jordan hit .414 with seven doubles, Tilton had a .344 average with 17 RBIs and Sydney Townsend batted .316.
RHS finished 16-7 overall and was a contender for the top spot in the North Central Conference. The Red Devils finished 5-2 in NCC play last season, one year after the program won its first conference championship.
Defending champion Huntington North was 7-0 in NCC play last season.
Ingram pointed toward the Vikings as a conference favorite again this year, with several other teams in the mix.
“The rest of the conference is kind of chasing Huntington now,” Ingram said.
Richmond is scheduled to open play today at Hamilton Southeastern. The Red Devils will be at home April 17 with Connersville, and again April 19 to host an invitational that also features Eaton, Jay County and Hagerstown.
Richmond’s NCC schedule begins April 26 at home with a doubleheader against Kokomo.
“As always, we have a decent schedule,” Ingram said. “We know the area teams are always competitive and provide a good test for us, and with what we have in the conference … it’s just going to be a fun, fun year.
“You have a great group of kids who want to work and become better all-around athletes, not just in the area of softball. They are good kids academically, too. That’s a great combination.”