The 2021 Triad softball team is as follows: row one, from the left: Cati LeVan, Ali Cox, Audra Millice, Abby Walls, Joni Russell, Holly Alvoid and Frani LeVan. Row two, from the left: Lillian Greene, Meghan Kilbride, Kaley Nott, Kaydence Feasel, Jalynn Smith, Hailey Blackburn and Gracey Gilpin. Row three, from the left: Hailey Snider, Allison Harlan, Lea LeMay, Rylie Thomas, Cylie Nott, Zoey Maurice, MaKenzie Trapp and Mallory Hayes. Row four, from the left: coach Hannah Hilborn, coach Rick Wilkins, head coach Shari Dixon, coach Ali Dixon and coach Erica Trainer. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
The Triad softball team has had its struggles over the last couple of years.
The Lady Cardinals finished with a record slightly over .500 in the 2019 season and lost the 2020 campaign to COVID-19.
The result is a team that has been depleted of its experience and talents with only a small handful of players returning with any varsity playing time.
Luckily, one of those players is senior pitcher Joni Russell.
She made 17 appearances during her sophomore season. She pitched in 97 innings, tallying 129 strikeouts and a 2.01 earned run average.
Senior Holly Alvoid will play middle infield and brings a .351 batting average to plate.
Alvoid has also shown the ability to notch a few extra bases with eight steals in the 2019 season.
The senior shortstop made only one error in 21 games, helping her to a .963 fielding percentage.
Ali Cox appeared in 10 games as a sophomore and returns to the Lady Cardinals as an outfielder who has been converted to third base.
Cox brings a .214 BA and crossed the plate for eight runs in 2019.
Those returning letter winners are part of coach Shari Dixon’s keys to success for this team.
“Our key takeaways for this team are to be successful is hitting and dominating on the mound,” she said.
Dixon was able to attract a lot of newcomers to this year’s team.
Seniors Abby Walls will take over first base, Audra Millice will be at second base, Cati LeVan will be behind the plate and sister Frani will patrol the outfield.
The Lady Cardinals also have a large incoming class of freshmen that has injected the team with some much-needed numbers.
Triad has eight freshmen on this season’s roster.
“We are young and very inexperienced at many positions,” said Dixon. “We have a lot to learn and must get better with each game.”
Hailey Snider will be one of those inexperienced players Dixon will lean on in the outfield.
Kaydence Feasel, the Lady Cardinals’ only active sophomore, will fill out the starting lineup in the outfield as well.
The inexperience has already been felt by the Lady Cardinals in the early season. They have yet to win a game in its first four as they try to improve on their 12-9 record from 2019.
The Lady Cardinals have struggled at the plate, only tallying two runs, while giving up 27 so far this spring.
The Cardinals will look for their first win today against Northeastern.