McARTHUR — While other teams continue to sort through competitions and inexperience, Vinton County is somewhat steps ahead in the process.
Its one of the more fortunate teams that return most of its contributing players from two seasons ago, so its more than anxious to finally get on the field.
“The best thing so far about this team is that we have a lot of different options because we do have a little more experience than a lot of teams in the area,” Vinton County coach Jeremy Ward said. “We have the ability to mix things up if needed because we have a lot of depth, and that’s our strong point.”
The Vikings return five of their top seven hitters from two seasons, which includes standout pitchers Abby Faught and Kerrigan Ward.
Faught finished with a 7-8 record including a 3.06 ERA alongside striking out 72 batters. She batted .368 with 28 hits including a pair of home runs, eight doubles and 14 RBIs.
Ward went 7-2 with a 2.04 ERA and struck out 42 batters. At the dish, she batted .417 with 30 hits including two home runs and seven doubles.
“The good thing for us is that we’ve never relied on just one pitcher, which keeps them fresh and doesn’t wear their arm out,” Jeremy Ward said. “We use that to our advantage and we don’t put a lot of stress on either on them to carry a huge load. Both have great bats as well so we’re lucky to have production on both sides of the field from them.”
Additionally returning is most of the infield with the likes of Breanna Sexton, Rylee Ousley and Sydney Smith holding down their respective positions.
Sexton was the team’s top hitter, batting .468 and leading the team in doubles, hits and RBIs.
“She’s such a dangerous hitter,” Jeremy Ward said. “She’s a weapon.”
Ousley batted .289 with 22 hits and 18 RBIs while Smith has a .247 batting average with a team-high three home runs along with 20 hits and 14 RBIs.
“That collective group of juniors between Breanna, Kerrigan, Sydney and Rylee, along with a senior in Abby, can each shoulder a load and balance this team at the plate,” Jeremy Ward said. “We put too much pressure on just a couple players to drive in runs. Having a year under their belts as freshman, it will pay off this year and we can have that balance.”
Morgan Ziegler will see some time at the hot corner while Gracie Peters, Madisen Fannin, Bailey Massie, Ashley Forrest and Emily Phillips will see time in the outfield.
Also watch for Lakota Mace, Taylor Houdasheldt and Mahaylee Napper to contribute in a multitude of ways in all areas of the game.
“The last time we took the field, we had three three-year players in the outfield, and now we have no experience out there,” Jeremy Ward said. “That’s our weakness just from an experience standpoint, but we have good mix of girls who can play and really throw the ball so I like how we’re developing.”
Being that most of the positions are filled by experienced players, the Vikings have their sights on one thing: a TVC championship.
“We’re lucky that the bulk of our team didn’t play winter sports so we had more time for workouts and hitting drills,” Jeremy Ward said. “We suffered together, but it’ll all pay off. We have a good chance to win the conference championship in a strong league and that’s what we’re aiming for.”
Vinton County opens its season on Saturday at Paint Valley.