When Purcell hits the field Tuesday for the 2020 Fast-pitch season opener it will begin Sarah Jones’ seventh season at the helm of the Dragons.
She has carved out a 122-83 with a State Championship in 2017 and a runner-up finish last year when the Dragons were 28-4.
Graduation took a toll on the squad.
Gone off that State Runner-up squad are the likes of Katelynn Carwile, Sandra Del Toro, Chelsea Spain and Addie Stanton.
But Jones is excited to welcome back a bevy of solid returning starters and a huge senior class.
Purcell has nine seniors dotting the roster including pitcher Brook Fleming, Karson Jennings, Kyleigh Smedley, Khia Tyler, Kaylee Evans, Hannah Buchanan, Missy Nimsey, Kinley Croslin and Vicky Johnson.
“Our senior class is definitely a strength,” Jones said. “They have been a part of three very successful seasons. We won the title when they were freshmen so they know the standards, the goals and the hard work to put in.
“They are on a mission to end their high school careers the way they started it,” the coach continued. “They have been a part of three Regional Championships and three appearances at the State Tournament.
“With their talent, determination and heart they are going to lead this team to do great things this season.”
Jones said a pair of sophomores in Lauren Holmes and KK Eck and her lone junior, Haileigh Smith, have also stepped up to leadership roles.
The veteran coach reports Missy Nimsey, Holmes and Eck will see some time both in the infield and in the outfield.
Jones reports she has a “big group” of freshmen on the squad.
One of those, Savanna Edwards, will see some playing time this season. Another freshman, Payci Constant will play a big part in base running this year.
“They are learning every day and are catching on quickly,” the coach said.
“We have a ton of talent and a lot of depth,” she continued. “We have power. We might not be quite as quick as we have in the past but I do feel like savvy base running will make up for that,” Jones said.
A move-in from Maysville, Remi Albright is another promising freshman. Utility players include Kaylee Stephens and Madison Veach. Other freshmen on the roster include Kailynn Helton, Emily Reno, Adison Perez, Katie Carillo, Kelly Anderson, Alie Holler Willess and Raynee Gonzalez.
Fleming will assume the lead role in the pitcher’s circle this season.
“She is ready to take on the challenge and feels better than she ever has,” Jones confirmed.
Fleming hit at a torrid .510 pace last year while the team batting average was .398.
“Our expectation is to continue to have success at the plate,” Jones said.
“We have a bunch of girls who will see multiple positions this year,” she said. “That’s just the way it’s going to be.”
Jones said the girls need to learn to trust the person to their left and right to mesh.
Once again regular season District games are important since only the top four in district standings advance to a Regional Tournament.
In addition to Fleming Jones reports Stephens and Tyler will also see action in the circle.
“I’m super excited to get to work with coach (Mandy) Clay for another year,” Jones said.
She also mentioned the good work junior high coaches Stephanie Knowles and Erica Keene do.
“They are a dynamic duo with the junior high girls,” Jones said.
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