Hopeful for the new season

Published 2:03 pm Thursday, March 22, 2018

Cumberland County High School’s varsity softball team has faced strong competition three games into the season, but it has shown promise despite having lost some key players from last year’s squad due to graduation. The Lady Dukes were 1-2 entering Thursday’s road game against Nottoway High School.

They fell 11-0 against visiting Central Lunenburg High School on Monday, won 7-6 against visiting Prince Edward County High School on March 16 and fell 13-5 to host Amelia County High School on March 15. Speaking in a Monday morning interview, Cumberland Head Coach Kamren Gilliam noted she lost nine players from last year’s team, including seven starters.

“Especially losing the amount of seniors that I had last season and having a lot of those (junior varsity) girls come up in their first time on varsity, I was pretty impressed with what they put out for the past two games,” she said.

Email newsletter signup

The 2018 Lady Dukes feature two seniors, five juniors and four sophomores. Gilliam said she is not entirely sure what to expect from her team this season, “but I’m hopeful, very hopeful, to see what they can put out in the district this year. Hopefully our pitcher, Nikki Hurt, is able to lead us on this season at the mound. So, we’ll just have to see what’s in front of us and take everything one day at a time.”

With Kasie Fowler having graduated, Hurt, a sophomore, will be key. “I think Nikki has good ball placement … knowing where to put the ball against certain batters,” Gilliam said. “She’s just putting it in play so our defense can help back her up.”

The backup pitcher that Gilliam has lined up for Hurt is sophomore Sydney Gilbert. On offense, “I’m looking for Caroline Seal, our catcher, to really get some hits going for us this year,” the coach said. “She’ll probably be the main go-to (batter). Following would be Nikki and possibly Elizabeth Newman, if she can consistently keep putting the bat on the ball.”

The front of the batting lineup features senior Olivia Sims as the leadoff hitter followed by junior Brett McHenry, Seal, who is a sophomore, and Newman, also a sophomore. Gilliam expected to learn much from Thursday’s game.

“Our true test will be against Nottoway,” she said Monday. “They’ve always been a strong team. So, hopefully we can compete with them, really give us an outlook on some things for the rest of the season.” The Lady Dukes host Goochland High School on Tuesday at 5 p.m.