Mar. 26—LONDON — The absence of a season in 2020 was harder on some than it was others. Fortunately for the South Laurel Lady Cardinals, their softball team will be just fine, despite not having played a game since 2019.
South Laurel has a softball tradition that many would love to have. They are perennial district and region contenders and reload every year. When the season was shut down due to COVID-19 a year ago, the Lady Cardinals didn't panic. They continued to focus on player development, and most of their team relied on travel ball to get them through and keep their skills refined.
Coach Carly Mink said the fall offseason has also been incredibly beneficial to the team.
"Luckily, most of our players were able to play travel ball last summer," said Mink. "We were able to begin preparing for our upcoming season during the fall like we usually do, following Covid guidelines of course.
South Laurel will feature a roster with just two seniors this season, in Chloe Taylor and Karly Gray. Both Taylor and Gray are long-time Lady Cardinals, each in their fifth year with the program. Mink said while both are great players and leaders, their biggest contributions will be their example to the rest of the team on how to approach the game and the kind of work and preparation it takes to be successful.
"I have two seniors, Chloe Taylor and Karly Gray, that have both been a part of the South Laurel softball program since their 8th-grade year," said Mink. "Gray and Taylor are great leaders on and off of the field and serve as great role models to the young players on our team. I look forward to them achieving great things this year and helping lead our team."
In addition to the pair of seniors, South Laurel has a strong junior group that will anchor the roster. Makayla Blair, Katie Jervis, Jaylyn Lewis, and Madison Worley round out the key players from the junior class, while freshman Kylie Clem plans to play a big role this season, as well.
"All of these players will be great contributors at the plate this year," said Mink. "Karly Gray and Chloe Taylor will contribute from the mound."
The Lady Cardinals will begin their season with a road game at McCreary Central on March 29. They have a loaded schedule with nearly 40 games on the docket. They'll be playing against the best competition in the 13th Region and some of the teams around the state in 2021.
Mink said she believes the work her team has put in this offseason will have them ready to go when that first ball is pitched in just two weeks.
"Overall, I am very excited to begin our season," Mink said. "We have been working relentlessly preparing for this season and I feel like this team is well equipped for the season to begin."