The Annual Lady Wildcat Invitational softball tournament runs Friday and Saturday at the Pine Grove Complex in Lexington. The tournament features a pared-down field of 16 teams. In recent years, 24 or more teams attended one of the top tournaments in the state.
Most of the best Midlands area teams are in the fold again, but it will be interesting to see how the Lexington performs against top-flight competition. The Wildcats are reportedly a rejuvenated crew after suffering through their worst season in recent memory. Lexington, once one of the powerhouse programs in the 4A ranks under the long coaching term of Scott Jumper, finished 6-12 and missed the state playoffs.
So far, so good. The Wildcats currently sport a 3-0 overall record, 2-0 in Region 5-4A play, but the first real tests come this week for the veteran, but still young team. Lexington takes on Irmo at home on Tuesday, and has tournament pool games on tap against Dorman, Brookland-Cayce and Spring Valley.
“I think not making the playoffs last year was a huge eye opener for our girls,” said Lexington coach Russell Spires. “They have all worked hard on improving their games, and are really excited to see how far we have come since last season. We have a young but experienced team this year with returning seven starters. I feel very good about our defense, but we’ve got to get some more players to step up and start moving runners around the bases. We spent a lot of time in the off-season working on hitting.”
The returning starters include senior outfielders Emily Caughman and Carly Ogan, senior catcher/first baseman Ashley Whitaker, freshman pitcher/shortstop Brittany Carr, sophomore pitcher Sarah Parks, sophomore first baseman Kayley Wilson, sophomore catcher Bri Fossell and sophomore outfielder Justina Thorton.
In highlights to date, Fossell and Lindsay Gore had three hits and one RBI apiece in a 7-6, 10-inning win over Gilbert, Brittany Carr had two hits, three runs scored and six RBI in an 18-0 region rout of Richland Northeast and Parks fired a five-inning no-hitter in a 10-0 region win over Akien.
Lady Wildcat Invitational schedule
Friday: White Knoll vs. Chapin (5 p.m.); Alexander (N.C.) Central vs. Ridge View (7 p.m.); White Knoll vs. Ridge View (9 p.m.). Saturday: Alexander Central vs. Chapin (9 a.m.); Alexander Central vs. White Knoll (11 a.m.); Ridge View vs. Chapin (1 p.m.).
Friday: Airport vs. Dutch Fork (5 p.m.); North Davidson (N.C.) vs. Airport (7 p.m.); North Davidson vs. Dutch Fork (9 p.m.). Saturday: Chester vs. Airport (9 a.m.); Chester vs. North Davidson (11 a.m.); Chester vs. Dutch Fork (1 p.m.).
Friday: Brookland-Cayce vs. Spring Valley (5 p.m.); Lexington vs. Dorman (7 p.m.); Brookland-Cayce vs. Lexington (9 p.m.). Saturday: Spring Valley vs. Dorman (9 a.m.); Spring Valley vs. Lexington (11 a.m.); Brookland-Cayce vs. Dorman (1 p.m.).
Friday: Blythewood vs. Swansea (5 p.m.); North Augusta vs. Laurens (7 p.m.); North Augusta vs. Blythewood (9 p.m.). Saturday: Laurens vs. Swansea (9 a.m.); Blythewood vs. Laurens (11 a.m.); North Augusta vs. Swansea (1 p.m.).
Final placement games at set for 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday.