Richmond played its best softball at the end of the 2014 season, advancing to the sectional championship game.
The Red Devils return many pieces to the puzzle that head coach Kyle Ingram said came together at the right time.
“… They’re champing at the bit to play and prove that last year wasn’t a fluke,” Ingram said. “… I think to a girl, each one of them will probably look at the latter part of our season as all the pieces of the puzzle finally coming together and knowing that all those pieces, basically, are back. I think they’re really excited about what prospects this season could have for them.”
The Red Devils open the season April 10 at reigning North Central Conference champion Huntington North. Ingram said the Red Devils are looking into adding another game since the original scheduled opener last week was postponed.
The Red Devils have players competing at every position for starting time, according to Ingram.
Mackenzie Taylor, an NCAA Division I basketball recruit for Wright State, is expected to return as the Red Devils’ starting shortstop after the All-NCC selection led Richmond with her .571 batting average.
Junior third baseman Keara Henderson was also an All-NCC pick, hitting .476 for RHS, with a .988 fielding percentage. Sophomore second baseman Ryanne Spicer was a second-team selection after hitting .250.
Spicer and sophomore Emily Malone could split time between second base and left field, with senior Chloe Bennett and sophomore Paityn Farris also expected to see time in the outfield.
Juniors Keryn Siler, Elissa Tilton and sophomore Katelyn Chowning are expected pitchers. Sophomores Brooklyn Vickers and Jenna Wilson are catchers, while juniors Grace Townsend and Hannah Goddard will play first.
“I don’t have any starting lineups because we have competition at about every position,” Ingram said.
“… The thing that’s been really nice is these kids have spent all winter long, on their own, doing conditioning, private workouts, they’ve been working. Probably in terms of number of years as a staff, this is the best group of kids we’ve had who have pretty much taken it upon themselves to put the work in that’s required to get ready for our season.”
Part of the motivation was Richmond’s rise to the sectional championship game last spring, where the Red Devils eventually fell 5-1 against New Castle.
Richmond finished 13-11 and graduated seniors Ciara Jordan and Sydney Townsend.
For the first time in a long time, Ingram said, there won’t be freshmen on varsity, which means a more experienced group.
The Red Devils also have scheduled home games April 15 vs. Marion, April 21 vs. Wapahani, April 22 vs. Winchester, April 27 vs. Northeastern, April 30 vs. East Central, May 7 vs. Shenandoah, May 13 vs. Hamilton Southeastern and May 22 vs. Jay County, with the Richmond Invitational April 18 plus doubleheaders April 28 vs. Anderson, May 2 vs. Union City and May 5 vs. Muncie Central.
The NCC Tournament is scheduled for May 9 and May 16.
“We’re pretty diversified,” Ingram said. “We’ve got some athleticism, we’ve got quickness, we’ve got kids that can put the bunt down. We’ve got kids that are good contact hitters that can keep the ball in play. That’s been the things that we’ve preached over the years, that, ‘Let’s see what we can do to force defenses to get us out, versus us putting ourselves in a position of coming back to the dugout with our bat on our shoulder because we didn’t execute.
“If we execute offensively and you force defenses to make plays, we feel pretty good about our chances.”
• Apr. 10: at Huntington North*
• Apr. 15: Marion*
• Apr. 16: at Connersville
• Apr. 18: Richmond invite
• Apr. 21: Wapahani
• Apr. 22: Winchester
• Apr. 23: at Lincoln
• Apr. 27: Northeastern
• Apr. 28: Anderson* (DH)
• Apr. 29: at Union County
• Apr. 30: East Central
• May 2: Union City (DH)
• May 5: Muncie Central* (DH)
• May 7: Shenandoah
• May 9: at NCC Tournament*
• May 13: Hamilton Southeastern
• May 16: at NCC Tournament*
• May 22: Jay County
* — NCC game