This might be the best of all possible worlds for the Miami High School softball team - the Lady Wardogs have no seniors yet they have four players who are heading into their third season as starters.
“We're going to be young - there's no seniors and we've got some girls who are playing out of position,” Miami coach Chris Mercer said.
The Lady Wardogs open their season Tuesday at Claremore then get the home schedule started Wednesday against Grove.
Miami went 20-19 in 2007, losing in the 5A regional finals.
“I think we're ready to go,” Mercer said. “The girls have been playing on our summer league teams, then quite a few have been on traveling teams. They have played a lot of softball this summer.”
The Lady Wardogs have one final tuneup before the opener on Monday when they scrimmage Adair.
Miami will compete in Class 4A this season, but the schedule remains pretty much the same as last year.
“We lost a 5A festival towards the end of schedule,” Mercer said. We'll open with Claremore and that first week, we play Tuesday through Friday - five games the first week.”
The Oologah festival on Friday includes games with Nowata and Sand Springs.
“We will be prepared (for the playoffs),” Mercer said.
The nucleus of the team will be the four juniors - third baseman Courtney Young, catcher Shelby Jurgensmeyer, shortstop Jessica Kelly and pitcher Kelsey Neal.
This is the third position change in as many years for Kelly, who was a catcher her freshman year, then moved to the outfield last season.
Joining Kelly and Young on the infield will be sophomore Kylee Carder at first and freshman Megan Barnes at second.
Carder has taken over at first since Neal now is the Lady Wardogs' every-day pitcher.
Sophomore Hayden Rowland is the only starter back in the outfield. She returns in center.
Jordan Barlow, Taylor Meeks, Megan Madden, Allison Hayes and transfer Kamisha Emarthla are in the running to fill the spots in right and left fields.
“We're looking for some girls to earn some spots there,” Mercer said.
Neal, who spot started for Veronica Arizpe and Lacy Morgan, now is the Lady Wardogs' only pitcher with experience at the high school level.
“We've been working with Young and Carder so we will be prepared for anything that could possibly happen,” Mercer said. “They will get some innings.”
Mercer said pitching and defense will be a strength.
“We've got a little bit of power in our lineup,” Mercer said. “We had four doubles the other day (in a scrimmage at Wyandotte) which was impressive. We've got to get more consistency in the bottom of our lineup. The top of lineup hit the ball well, but the bottom part struggled a little.
“That was to be expected because that was girls who hadn't played varsity softball yet.”