Testa and Company Ready to Take the Field Friday

 

BRISTOL, Tenn. – This Friday when the Lady Tornado take the field at the new King College Softball Complex, Head Coach Jenn Testa hopes that their first opening day at the new facility will bring home a pair of wins. Helping lead the way is a reformed lineup that will feature speed and a focus on the fundamentals of the game, in addition to a new attitude that has taken over the team. King opens their season this Friday afternoon at home against local Emory and Henry College.


Head Coach Jenn Testa on...

The returners - click here
The infield - click here
The outfield - click here
The pitchers - click here
The King College Softball Complex - click here 


The Lady Tornado will rely upon a core group of seniors to bolster the middle of its batting order plus many new faces that are equipped with speed to make for an aggressive lineup.  Kendall Brabson (Bean Station, Tenn.) returns as the team's leading hitter from the 2011 season with a .323 batting average through 40 games played. The senior first baseman led the team in hits (40) and total bases (48), second in doubles (5), and third in RBI (15) last season and will be counted upon to set the table for the rest of the order.

Projected Two-Deep

Right field:

Tiffany Harris (Sr.)
Fallon Thomas (So.)

Centerfield:

Aubree Hutt (Jr.) or
Stephanie Rodriguez (Fr.)

Left field:

Christy Kooch (Sr.)

Third base:

Cassie  Ringstaff (So.)
Mackenzie Draine (Jr.)

Shortstop:

Christina Melcher (Fr.)
Cora Milliken (Fr.)

Second base:

Cora Milliken (Fr.)
Tiffany Brand (So.)

First base:

Kendall Brabson (Sr.)
Hannah Light (So.)

Catcher:

Fallon Thomas (So.)
Cora Milliken (Fr.)

SP:

Hannah Light (So.)
Rachel Wilmoth (So.)

Senior outfielders Christy Kooch (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Tiffany Harris (Tazewell, Va./Radford) will add to the middle of the lineup with a combination of contact and power hitting. Kooch kept pace with Brabson in many offensive categories including doubles (5) and RBI (18) but was among the top on the team in slugging percentage (.413). She was second on the team with three home runs.

Harris, a transfer from Radford University, enters her second season as a member of the Lady Tornado and has improved dramatically at the plate, adding a new element of power to her hitting style. Harris' bat will be her most valuable asset and if her offseason is any indication of what is to come, should find herself making an impact in the middle of the lineup. Adding to the outfield is junior center fielder Aubree Hutt (Bristol, Va.) whose speed will help cover the gaps in the field and get runs across the board from the plate. She led the team in stolen bases, converting 10-of-12 last season, and will likely be let loose once she gets on base in hopes to feed into the aggressive style King looks to implement.

Around the infield, youth is the name of the game. Aside from Brabson, the remaining four position players that comprise the diamond are either freshmen or sophomores. Cassie Ringstaff (Richlands, Va.) will continue her transition third base and will help support the lineup after hitting .298 last season with a team-high two triples. Freshmen Christina Melcher (Orlando, Fla.) and Cora Milliken (Jacksonville, Fla.) will begin the season manning the team's middle infield spots after promising preseasons where their speed will eliminate space in the holes of the defense. With four years to work together, the duo may create a middle-infield tandem to be feared for years to come, not to mention the speed they possess may rear its head on the base paths.

Sophomore Fallon Thomas (Bristol, Va.) has shown a new level maturity after her completing her freshman year behind the dish. Her arm strength and defensive improvements have made her the clear choice to defend the dish for the Lady Tornado.

Thomas will be catching a new pitcher taking over the No. 1 spot in the rotation. Hannah Light (Coeburn, Va.) will take the circle after transferring from Mars Hill College. She finished her freshman season with a 6-8 overall mark and a 2.45 earned run average as one of the Lion's three starters. In 94.1 innings pitched last season, Light struck out 85 batters and walked only 19. Her ability to locate her pitches will make her successful as she looks to make her mark as a full-time starter and the lead hurler for King.

Rachel Wilmoth (Morristown, Tenn.) returns from last year's King team to serve as the No. 2 starter behind Light. As a freshman she threw over 100 innings as the second part of a two-person staff and has used this offseason to focus on moving the ball around and locating her pitches.

Kendall Brabson (Sr., 1B)

Stephanie Rodriguez (Lake Mark, Fla.) is a speedster that is currently in competition for one the starting outfield spots on the team. The freshman brings solid defense and a slap hitting style that help her compete for playing time this season after a good preseason. Sophomore infielder Tiffany Brand (Knoxville, Tenn.) played a lot of second base last year, possesses a strong bat, and will help provide depth.

Coach Testa has made clear that the 2012 Lady Tornado team will provide a different look than teams of the past. The number of young faces and combination of speed and power at the plate will provide for a lot of growth and flexibility in their game day strategy. Testa also mentioned that the best players will play and the way her team practices and performs will help influence the lineup game by game.

The underclassmen have already established the new attitude the team will carry into the season opener this Friday (Feb. 17) against Emory and Henry. The team now possesses a "never say die" attitude with expectations set upon themselves to never give up and defensively, to not let anything by them. Testa has embraced this new mentality and said, "We want teams to remember the game they played against us, regardless of the outcome."

The Lady Tornado open their season with a doubleheader at the new King College Softball Complex on Friday, Feb. 17 at 1:30 p.m. against the Wasps of Emory and Henry College (NCAA DIII). It will be their first season opener at the new field after opening in March of 2011.