Going into the 2020 girls softball season, veteran Ripley head coach Kenny Swisher was working with a team loaded with juniors and freshmen.
In fact, Swisher has but one senior and one sophomore on this year’s Lady Viking unit…still, of course, hoping to play this spring after the coronavirus suspended the season.
Swisher lost two talented individuals from a year ago in Cassidy Young, a Class AAA All-Stater as a junior, and Jaelyn Hunt, who was the Class AAA Second Team All-State captain last year as an outfielder. Hunt was also a top pitcher during her career at Ripley.
Hunt had her first season of college softball closed because of the virus earlier this spring at West Virginia State University.
Swisher’s lone senior is a good one in Tori Hinzman, who will likely be the team’s second baseman if some type of season gets going.
“She is so versatile,” Swisher said. “She can play infield and outfield and she is so fast. But she was pretty well set at second. She’s just so comfortable there.
“She’s worked hard for us for three years. She built herself into an outstanding ball player. She can field about anything. She was ready to show a lot of softball knowledge.”
The junior class features pitcher Chloe Shinn, who has had plenty of action the past two seasons inside the pitching circle.
“She’s pitched a lot for us,” said Swisher of Shinn, who garnered Class AAA Honorable Mention last year.
Lainey Shouldis, outfield, Grace Walsh, catcher, Kyra Winter outfield/infield, Emma Jenkins, outfield, and Emilee Jordan, outfield, make up the rest of the junior class.
“Our junior class is loaded with quality players,” said Swisher.
“Walsh is a top-notch catcher. Winter is an excellent hitter.”
Another “very good hitter” is Aaliyah Baldwin, the team’s lone sophomore, who was slated to see action at first and in the outfield.
Swisher feels as though the freshmen class is “very strong."
He noted it could be one of “the strongest” he’s ever had.
It includes, Cassidy Cummings, infielder, Ellie Hershey, pitcher/utility, Sidney Varney, pitcher/utility, McKenna Hall, shortstop, Jenna Farrell, utility, Kristabelle Carte, infielder/catcher, and Kallie Leavitt, infielder.
“They are just a bunch of good all-around players,” said Swisher of his ninth grade group. “You build towards things. The freshmen are very good, they’ve just got to get use to the level we play at here.”
Swisher hopes all of his players will see action before the spring is out.
“We are hoping that something happens,” he said “You just can’t predict, it’s too difficult.
Swisher’s assistants this season are Steve Baldwin and Dana Hager.