It has been several years since the Lynn Camp Wildcats have been able to enjoy very much success on the baseball diamond. Head Coach Marc Estep had high hopes coming into last spring, but his team never could figure out how to put the pieces together and win ball games. In the end, they finished the season with just three wins, and 25 losses.
In 2016, Estep is once again feeling good about the Wildcats’ prospects. A talented junior class will be counted on to lead the way in the months ahead, and will hopefully be the ones to lift the team to some much-needed big victories.
“I’m pleased with our attitude,” said Estep in a recent interview. “The mentality here is changing. We should be more solid all the way around this year. We’ve been working hard in the offseason, and the talent is there. It’s just going to be up to the players whether or not to use it.”
Among those positions that Estep feels the Cats will be more solid at this spring is pitcher. This is a good thing considering the new pitching limitations recently imposed by the Kentucky High School Athletics Association. In a nutshell, whereas the previous rule looked at how many innings a player pitched, the new rule will force teams to keep pitch counts, not allowing a player to go over a certain amount of pitches during the course a game. Mandatory days of rest will follow for any pitcher that goes over 25 pitches in one contest, with no more than 120 pitches being allowed by any one player.
Basically, it is going to benefit teams now more than ever to have depth at the pitching position, and that is something that Estep is counting on in 2016.
In addition to his returning players, he said that he is also excited about the arrival of some new names and faces, all of whom should be able to contribute on the mound.
As for the schedule, Lynn Camp will have more opportunities this year to work out the kinks before beginning play in the regional All “A” tournament.
They will open up the season with home games against both Harlan and Owsley County on March 12, followed by games against McCreary Central, Williamsburg, Perry County Central and North Laurel before they take on Middlesboro in the first round of the All “A”.
“We have increased the strength of our schedule a little bit,” said Estep. “But I feel like we’re set up for success. We have to put more runs up on the board and do a better job pitching, but I think we should be looking at 15 wins minimum this season.”
When asked about the 51st District, Estep said that he looks for Barbourville to be very competitive, with a large class of seniors returning to their roster. He said that Pineville should have a good amount of production returning to their lineup as well, but he also added that there is an unknown element with the Mountain Lions welcoming in a new head coach. He said the same for Knox Central, who is also under the guidance of a new coach in 2016.
In all, Estep said that he feels next year will definitely be the Wildcats’ time to make a splash in the All “A,” as well as the district. He is still confident about how things will play out this year, however, and fully anticipates this season to be a big step up from previous ones.
Estep admitted that he dealt with a lot of frustration in 2015, saying that probably rubbed off on his team a little bit, but he is enjoying a much more positive atmosphere in the club house now as the new season is set to get underway in just about a month’s time.
“I got really frustrated last year,” he explained. “I had a lot of expectations, and when things didn’t work out I got frustrated. That probably carried over to the rest of the team, but this year my attitude is better, my staff’s attitude is better and the players’ attitudes are much better. We have to continue to have faith in ourselves moving forward. Around here, good has been good enough for a long time. Now it’s not. Now is the time for us to get out there and really show what we can do.”
Lynn Camp will be hosting the 51st District and 13th Region baseball tournaments this year, and coach Estep is hoping that his Wildcats will be along for the ride as postseason play unfolds.
To find out more about the road that they will have to travel in order to get there, check out the full slate of games online at KHSAA.org. Click on the “Scoreboards” button on the home page, click “Baseball Scoreboard” on the next page and then select “2016 Scores and Schedules” from the drop down menu. From there, scroll down and find Lynn Camp’s name in the list of scheduled games.
Head Coach Nikki Hendrix’s Lynn Camp Lady Cats softball team will be coming into the 2016 season with a lot of momentum on their side. They gave Knox Central a heck of a game in last year’s 51st District finals, leading to their first 13th Region tournament appearance in nearly a decade.
Lynn Camp’s eleven wins in 2015 marked a high point in the program’s history, with victories over Barbourville, Owsley County, Jellico, Bell County, Lee County, Williamsburg, Knox Central and Pineville. They also played very close with teams such as OBI, Richmond Model and Whitley County.
Now, Hendrix and company are hoping to take things one step further by picking up a few more wins and securing a district title. She said recently that she believes this is the year that her squad can get the job done.
“We have been working out since October, and have gotten stronger and faster,” Hendrix explained. “I have a good group of girls. They’re determined. My seniors especially are very determined to win this year. They will do whatever it takes to make themselves better. Summer Berry (IF) and Lakylla Medlin (P) in particular have really stepped up and taken on that leadership role. They are just very determined to win.”
Speaking about the team as a whole, Hendrix said that she is very excited about the amount of production that she will return to her roster this spring. “We only lost two players last year,” she said. “So the majority of our players will be back.”
Among those returners will be veterans such as Berry, Medlin and outfielder Tiana Simpson, but Hendrix is also looking to receive a lot of help from younger players, such as freshman Makenzie Grant. She described Grant as an “impact player, who will make a big difference” on the team. Grant is currently helping the Lady Cats on the basketball court, where she has been a regular contributor all season long.
When considering her upcoming schedule (also available on KHSAA.org), Coach Hendrix said that she is confident her team will be able to start the season out on a high note. They will open things up at home against Lee County on March 14, and will face district foe Barbourville in the first round of the region All “A” tournament later in the month.
As for the district, Hendrix said that she feels like now is definitely to time for her girls to bring home the championship trophy, especially considering they will be hosting the tournament in May.
Hendrix anticipates being able to field a team in the coming months that will keep their errors down while at the same time showing improvements with both their hitting and their pitching.
With a dedicated and motivated veteran group leading the way, she is hoping to once again raise the bar for success in the Lady Cats softball program.