MAN — For the Man High School softball team it’s the last year in the Class A ranks — at least in the foreseeable future.
The Lady Billies, coached by 19-year head coach Randy Epperly, hope to go out with a bang with one last trip to Vienna in the Class A state tournament before going on to Double-A ball next year.
Epperly and the Lady Billies have won two Class A state titles, a state runner-up finish, six state tournament appearances and 18 sectional titles.
Man hopes to add to that total this season.
The Lady Billies are scheduled to open the season on Tuesday night at Westside. Saturday’s scheduled opener at home with Mingo Central was turned into a scrimmage instead and did not count.
“We would like to go out with a bang in Class A with a championship,” Epperly said. “I think we will be back down in Class A in four years. This year’s team has been working very hard and they are excited and ready to play. Our expection is to go back to Vienna. I don’t get too excited because it’s too early this time of the year, but the girls have really been working hard. We play our best ball when it starts getting hot and we hope that carries over to tournament time.”
The Lady Billies, made up of three seniors, five juniors, six sophomores and five freshmen, have plenty of talent to go around.
Man’s seniors are made up of returning starters Emilee Toler, Savannah McCormack and Cydnee Lambert, a first baseman/pitcher, who transferred from Chapmanville Regional High School.
Man will be led offensively by Sydney Keffer, the best hitter on the team. The pitching will be led by Emily Walker, Haylee Daniels and Lambert.
On defense, it’s pretty much now set.
Playing first base will be Hunter Harvey. McCormack is at second and Lambert likely the third baseman with Toler at shortstop.
In the outfield, Morgan Muncy moves from the infield grass to left field, while Grace Cline returns in center. In right field, sophomore Madison Paynter gets the nod.
Keffer is back as Man’s catcher.
On the offensive side, the batting order is also pretty much set.
Leading off is the table setter in Savannah McCormack.
The number two slot goes to Toler with the Lady Billies’ best hitter Keffer batting third.
“McCormack and Toler set the table for us,” Epperly said. “They can bunt and get on base so Keffer and Grace Cline can drive them in. Keffer hits for more average than Cline but Cline has more power. Toler is a very good bunter and we play a lot of small ball.”
Cline will hit in the cleanup spot. Lambert will hit fifth and Harvey, another top slugger on the team, will bat in the six slot for Man. Paynter, who also has some power, will bat seventh followed by Muncy in the eight spot of the lineup. Walker may be DH’d by Torrie Doty or freshman Chelsea Vance in the No. 9 spot.
“Lambert will help us a lot,” Epperly said. “Hunter Harvey got some big hits for us last year and we are expecting a lot from her. Morgan Muncy moved to the outfield and has done a great job out there. Maddy Paytner is a big girl and a good hitter with power and we hope she drives in runs for us. We have a good pitching staff with Emilee Walker, Haylee Daniels and Cydnee Lambert. Our fourth pitcher, who will be doing the JV pitching, is just a freshman in Maddy Meade.”
Also transferring to Man from Mingo Central is Sarah Blevins.
“She is also looking good,” Epperly said.
Taylor Owens and Shauntae Miller will also be vying for playing time as well as Blevins, Lucy Adkins and Cali McLamare.
Epperly said the Lady Billies have a tough schedule.
“We play a tough schedule in Logan, Chapmanville, Wyoming East, Westside, Buffalo, Scott, Sherman, Van and we play in the Chapmanville tourney against Nicholas County and Poca. New on the schedule is Pikeview,” he said.
Epperly is assisted by Billy Jack Dickerson and Charlie Adkins.
2016 Man High School
March 22: at Westside, 5:30 p.m.
March 23: Mount View, 5:30 p.m.
March 25: at Van, 5:30 p.m.
March 29: Riverview, 5:30 p.m.
March 30: Pikeview, 1 p.m.
March 31: at Scott, 1:30 p.m.
March 31: vs. Poca (at Chapmanville tourney), 5 p.m.
April 1: vs. Westside (at Chapmanville tourney), 5 p.m.
April 2: vs. Nicholas County (at Chapmanville tourney), 4 p.m.
April 2: vs. Mingo Central (at Chapmanville tourney), 12 p.m.
April 5: at Wyoming East, 5:30 p.m.
April 6: Chapmanville, 5:30 p.m.
April 7: at Logan, 5:30 p.m.
April 8: Charleston Catholic, 5:30 p.m.
April 11: at Mingo Central, 5:30 p.m.
April 12: Sherman, 5:30 p.m.
April 13: at Riverview, 5:30 p.m.
April 14: at Tug Valley, 5:30 p.m.
April 18: at Buffalo, 5:30 p.m.
April 19: at Chapmanville, 5:30 p.m.
April 21: Westside, 5:30 p.m.
April 23: at Mount View, 1 p.m.
April 25: Van, 5:30 p.m.
April 26: at Sherman, 5:30 p.m.
April 27: Scott, 5:30 p.m.
April 28: Logan, 5:30 p.m.
April 29: Buffalo, 5:30 p.m.
April 30: Wyoming East, 1 p.m.