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Softball Preview

Softball Preview: Lady Paladins Eye more Victories as Season Begins Aug. 14

Baylor Aycock was quite a workhorse on the mound for the Fellowship Christian School softball team last year. This year probably won't be any different.

The senior pitcher threw 84 1/3 innings of the team's 89 innings the team's pitchers logged last season. Aycock won four games, posted a 1.82 earned run average and fanned 127 batters. Her WHIP was 1.03 as she walked just 27 batters.

"I am not sure where we would be without Baylor on the mound," head coach Shawn Oliver said. "She is quite a pitcher. She provides consistency on the mound, understands the games, is one of our best hitters and is a big cheerleader who encourages her teammates."

As sophomore, she was the team's No. 2 starter and top reliever behind Lauren Kierpa, who pitched for Covenant College last season.

Last year's club posted a 4-13 record, but Oliver is hoping to see some growth this season.

"We are working on our fundamentals," said Oliver, who begins he second year as softball head coach. "I feel better this year, and we hope to win more than four or five games this year. It was a great unknown for me as a coach last year. I am glad to be back. The girls are excited to play, and I am excited for them this season."

Oliver competed his sixth year in education in 2018-19, and joined FCS as baseball coach in 2016-17.

"We will hopefully win more games this year," Oliver said. "Baylor will pitch well, and we'll need to field well behind her. We'll have another year in the same system. I think the girls appreciate the same system after having four coaches in four years. Consistency should help us this year."

At the plate, Aycock led the Lady Paladins with 13 hits, including the team's two extra-bases hits (a home run and a double), 11 singles and a .361 batting average.

Senior Emma Jones, the team's catcher, finished second on the squad with 10 hits and 10 singles in 2018. She was fifth on the Lady Paladins with six RBIs.

Junior Caroline Gryder ranked second on the club with eight RBIs and a .250 batting average, and ranked third with nine hits last season. Aycock and junior Brooke Mitchell shared third on the team with seven RBIs last season.

"Emma [Jones] does a great job behind the plate," Oliver said. "She is a good all-around player. We are excited to have Emma [Yeager] back for a third year too. Caroline and Brooke are now juniors, so we expect good things out of them at the plate. We'll be more experience this year. It's nice to have all those girls back."

The club opens the season against 6A Northview High School on Aug. 14 at Paladin Park at 5 p.m.

"I believe we have a more favorable schedule this season," Oliver said. "I believe we'll be in a position to win more games."

(File photo from 2018 by Kevin Jones)