Raiders looking to return to regionalMarch 18, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — Things are in limbo right now for Southridge softball, as is the case for all local sports teams in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Coach Scott Buening told The Herald through a text message on Sunday that things are in a holding pattern at the moment. The administration will continue monitoring the situation and the Indiana High School Athletic Association will let the team know when it may practice again.
Buening said the Raiders don't know when they may continue practicing and how it will affect their season, but if and when they do return to the diamond, they'll have a sectional championship to defend.
Southridge went 17-8 a year ago, winning just its second sectional title in team history, and held Class 2A top-ranked Tecumseh on the ropes in the regional championship before the Braves found a way to rally and win.
"Last year, we had a bunch of girls who really, I thought, were driven," Buening said. "We had a really good group of seniors who really bought in to what we wanted to do in regards to just working hard and being great teammates. We had eight of them, and they provided some really good leadership for us. The other girls really followed along. It was a team that just competed night in and night out."
Once they get the chance to play, having the desire, effort and the mindset to win day in and day out will play a large part in the kind of season Southridge has. The 2019 motto was, "Why not us?"
This year's motto will emphasize "TNT" or "Takes No Talent," which requires the team controlling what it can, competing and showing the effort and desire every day in practice.
The team will be without sophomore pitcher Myah Montgomery, who tore her ACL during basketball season. Southridge plans to utilize multiple pitchers in the circle this season, as Buening isn't a fan of going with just a single pitcher. Some of the options for Southridge include junior Briley King, sophomore Maddy Songer and freshmen Emily Ferguson and Allyson Buening.
The Raiders graduated eight seniors last year, including All-Pocket Athletic Conference selection Peyton Nalley. But some key cogs will be back in the lineup, such as sophomore catcher Mikah Goeppner, who had multiple postseason home runs last year, including a game-tying shot against Linton-Stockton in the sectional championship.
"She doesn't get enough credit," Buening said. "Her ability to manage as a catcher and as a young catcher, she's tremendous at blocking the ball. I really want to see her take that last step to really become a bulldog back there behind the plate. She's such a nice kid off the field. She's very pleasant, very nice, great personality. I want to see her step up a little bit more this year in regards to commanding the pitcher and really becoming kind of that bulldog for us behind the plate."
Coming back for her junior year is Kennedy Nalley, who earned All-State honors by the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association last year as a sophomore. Nalley rewrote the record books with a .592 batting average, 13 doubles, seven home runs and 43 RBIs, all new single-season records at Southridge.
However, Buening thinks those stats are irrelevant to Nalley. He noted that Nalley could go 4 for 4 in a game, but if the Raiders lose, she's usually the most visibly upset person out there.
"If you got a lot of Kennedy Nalleys, then you got a chance to be really good," he said. "I think that's the thing with our team heading into this year is that competitive drive, that competitive spirit and desire to do just that and go out and compete with confidence. That's what she does so well, and then you put on top of that the accomplishments that she's had.
"With all the accomplishments she's had, I know for her, it's about winning and finding a way not to just win another sectional, but to take another step to jump that regional fence that our program has never gotten over," Buening continued.
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