Hartshorne fast-pitch softball coach Michael Martin said he "fully" expects the Lady Miners to return to the regional tournament this year — and give themselves a chance to go farther than that.
The Lady Miners finished last year with a 15-10 record after a one-run loss to Henryetta on the second day of the Verdigris regional. Martin said Hartshorne had a great draw and a great opportunity to make it to state in 2018.
"It'll be the same this year, but we're just going into it a little bit more mature," Martin said.
Many players are back, but Martin won't know who he pencils in to take over for the graduated Jaycee Kitchell at first base until Monday's scheduled season opener at Red Oak.
The only two spots that are locked down are pitcher, which is sophomore Skyler Sirmans, and catcher, which is sophomore Courtnee Sensibaugh.
Sensibaugh burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2018 when she posted a .519 batting average, .565 on-base percentage, 24 RBIs and 18 runs scored.
"There's a lot of girls that are good at the game, but Courtnee brings a different aspect the way she looks at the game with her attitude and her mentality," Martin said.
Martin said he intends for the Lady Miners to be aggressive at the plate this year, and Sensibaugh outlined her intended approach against the Lady Eagles.
"The first two pitches you get, you swing as hard as you can, and then when you have two strikes, you shorten up and get on top of the ball," she said.
The Lady Miners still have a veteran presence in the lineup. Landry Tucker enters her senior year after she batted .351 with 20 runs scored as a junior. Holli Lindley also is going into her final fast-pitch season. Lindley had a .378 batting average, .446 on-base percentage and scored 24 runs as a junior.
Martin said Lindley was dealing with an injury on Wednesday, but she will be ready for Red Oak.
"Holli's our vocal leader," Martin said. "Landry lets her play do the talking. She don't speak like Holli does. Holli's almost has become another assistant coach for us. She does an awesome job just running it."
Martin said on Wednesday that sophomore Railey Spears looks the most improved to him at this point. He cited how hard Spears works and that she deserves a position.
It is unknown what position that will be because Martin has been shuffling players around at different spots.
Martin said Sirmans has shown improvement with her mental focus, preparedness and maturity. He added that she has increased her velocity and decreased her pitch count during summer competition.
Martin thinks if his players settle in, play and have fun, that they'll be really good. He said his players have good chemistry, get along well and don't have any issues with one another.
"We've been around each other our whole life and grew up together," Tucker said. "We're playing the sport we love. So, it's just fun."
Martin said the team can swing the bat, but also have the ability to play small ball with some players he runs well.
Good at-bats, coupled with clean defense, are what he wants to see when they take the field for the 2019 opener.
Contact Corey Stolzenbach at email@example.com