Eight seniors to bolster Lady Dukes softball

Published 4:41 pm Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cumberland High School’s varsity softball team has a lot of girls back this year to continue what they started.

The Lady Dukes lost only three players from last year’s squad due to graduation, and this season, they include eight seniors, two juniors and two freshmen.

“They’ve been playing together for a while,” Cumberland Head Coach Kamren Gilliam said of the girls on the 2017 roster, adding that many of them have played travel ball, recreational ball and junior varsity ball together prior to now.

Gilliam is in her first year leading the team. She brings experience coaching as an assistant at Lake Taylor High School in Norfolk, where she also helped coach a travel ball team called the Lady Rebels.

As a player, Gilliam was a four-year letterman for the Lady Dukes, and she went on to play for Old Dominion University’s club team.

She is working to help Cumberland improve on its 2016 season during which it went 4-11 overall, including defeating West Point High School in the Conference 42 tournament quarterfinals before falling to Mathews High School in the semifinals.

“I’m looking forward to a great season,” Gilliam said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll have a powerful squad coming through, especially with eight experienced seniors. Record-wise, I’m looking to compete in every game, hopefully get the bats going this year, making some key plays throughout the season that will benefit us in the long run.”

She said she is looking to Mary Kate Perry to be a good senior standout as a first baseman and a power hitter. Perry aims to play softball at the next level at Emory & Henry College.

Gilliam highlighted senior Bria Anderson, the Lady Dukes basketball star, as one she expects to contribute significantly at center field and on offense as a baserunner.

“I’m looking at my senior, Kasie Fowler, to be my starter in the circle this year,” Gilliam said. “She’s been the primary pitcher for the varsity squad.”

Senior Quentasha Williams can also contribute in the circle, along with playing at shortstop.

Other likely members of the starting lineup include freshman catcher Caroline Seal, freshman second baseman Nikki Hurt, senior third baseman Taylor Thomas, senior left fielder Brittny Price and junior right fielder Olivia Sims.

The coach identified Hurt and Seal as up-and-comers.

Gilliam said she hopes to help her players develop confidence in themselves and in each other, translating into confidence on the diamond.

Cumberland opened its season Thursday at home against Goochland High School, and the Lady Dukes return to action at Amelia County High School on Tuesday at 5 p.m.