Fresh off their second state tournament appearance in the last four years, the Guthrie LadyJays will be looking to reload in 2019. In order to do so, Guthrie Head Coach Booker Blakley will have to find replacements for several key players from last year’s 23-6 team.
“We lost some quality players all over the place,” Blakley said. “We lost a little bit of everything. We lost some pitching, catching, and the outfield, but we have some talent to replace those spots.”
One of the biggest holes to fill will be the one left by All-State pitcher Karrah Dean. Dean played a monstrous part in the two state tournament runs in her career at Guthrie. Last season, Dean was 12-2 as a starter inside the circle, finishing with a 1.806 Earned Run Average. She racked up 136 strikeouts in 93 innings of work, while only allowing 66 base hits. She was just as deadly at the plate. Dean led the team in every hitting statistic across the board. She finished with a team-high .557 batting average, 39 RBIs, and 10 home runs. Her 1.129 slugging percentage was nearly double of the next closest on the team.
Replacing Dean will be nearly impossible for one player to do. That’s why Blakley said it will have to come from a handful of players.
“We will probably be a little more by committee this year in the circle,” Blakley said. “We have three or four quality arms that we can throw out there on any given day. With Drew Dodgion, Trinity LeGrande, Ashley Eichler, and Addy Awbrey, we feel like we have some options to throw any given game.”
The LadyJays will also be looking to break in a new catcher after losing Taylor Bolding to graduation. Elaina Clark is expected to step in and fill that role.
“Elaina is really talented, she can play any position on the field when we need her to,” Blakley said. “She played every where but pitcher for us last year. We expect some big thing out of her this year.”
Guthrie also loses Trenda LeGrande and Zoie Morrison. The two outfielders were imperative to Guthrie’s run last year. With Dean, Bolding, LeGrande and Morrison gone, Guthrie loses a significant amount of their run production from a season ago. But while Guthrie loses some key bats from its line up, they are expected to be more balanced from the top of the order to the bottom in 2019.
“I would say the offense will be the strength of this team,” Blakley said. “We have about six or seven bats that we can rely on to get the offense going which we’re going to need because we probably won’t hold teams to zero or one run as much this year. We have some pretty good bats and I think our power is a little more spread out and not just located to one or two bats. There are a few kids that have the ability to hit not only for average but for power.”
Some of those bats that will be leaned on to produce in 2019 will be Trinity LeGrande, Jules Leach, Awbrey and Dodgion. Those four players have been highlighted by the coaching staff as players to watch for this season.
“Trinity LeGrande is one player we are going to ask a lot more out of this year,” Blakley said. “Her role is going to be a lot bigger this year. She’s going to be moving up in the line up and she’ll be pitching for us. Jules is another player that’s going to be asked to do a lot more. Those two and Addy and Drew are players we’re going to look to this year.”
For the first time in a long time, Carl Albert is not on the schedule. The Lady Titans are no longer in the district, swapping places with Piedmont. The Lady Wildcats bounced Guthrie from the state tournament last year 3-1. Guthrie will host Piedmont on Tuesday in a highly anticipated rematch with district implications. For the LadyJays, the goal for 2019 remains the same as it was last season and that’s to make it to the state tournament. Coach Blakley believes his team is talented enough to return for the second straight season.
“That’s still the goal for us,” Blakley said. “We have the talent to play with anybody but we are going to have to take care of business against Piedmont and Woodward or both and if we can do that, we can host a regional. If you host a regional, you have a pretty good chance of getting out. It’s just going to come down to if we can find the right people to fill the spots we’re missing and making sure we’re playing our best ball at the right time.”
The LadyJays open the regular season on Monday when they travel to Southern Nazarene to play the OKC Broncos.