Three Rivers softball coach Jeff Null isn’t quite sure who his No. 2 pitcher is going to be.
The Lady Raiders went 14-2 during the fall with four different pitchers battling for the second spot, including East Carter alumna Makenna Moore.
“It was a pretty good fall. Everybody played quite a bit. Everybody played pretty well,” Null said. “Not every school got to play, so I think that gave us a little bit of an advantage there.”
Moore led the Lady Raiders with an ERA under 1.00 and didn’t walk a batter in 15 innings with 28 strikeouts.
“She had a really strong (fall). I thought she would need a little more time to develop, but she came in and did well,” Null said.
Makayla Bryant also had a sub-1.00 ERA while Cayton Sloan and Makale Floyd had ERAs under 2.00.
The pitching staff as a whole got a boost from adding former Raider and Van Buren state champion Summer Shockley to the coaching staff.
Shockley started her freshman fall season as the team’s third pitcher and was the top pitcher by the end of the season. In the spring, she went 26-8 in the circle with a 2.14 ERA and 265 strikeouts over 209 innings as Three Rivers reached the NJCAA World Series. She finished third in the nation in total strikeouts and 10th in strikeouts per game before signing with Missouri that summer.
Shockley will graduate from Missouri this spring and is taking her final classes online while getting a jump start on her coaching career. She also coached at Three Rivers’ high school camps during the summer, and Null said at the time that they’d be lucky to have her as a coach after she graduates.
“She’s had a big effect on our pitchers. A couple of them have made velocity jumps and that’s just not something you can account for,” Null said.
Kindi Puckett is the team’s clear No. 1 pitcher right now, Null said. The spring season was shut down after 13 games and in that time, Puckett was 4-1 with three complete games and a 1.75 ERA. She had 37 strikeouts and 11 walks. She is the only returning pitcher on the roster.
Zoe Bisby and Jenny Morey opted to return for a third year after the NJCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to spring athletes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both were hitting over .400 in the spring and Morey was averaging a stolen base per game.
“We had a couple of freshmen come in who are going to make a splash right away,” Null added. “We have a tough job as coaches trying to narrow it down to nine or 10 starters. We have speed, we have power, just consistency is our main thing.”
Along with Moore, the 2020 recruiting class includes fellow East Carter alumna Naomi Crowley. Area players Morgan Shockley of Van Buren and Gracie Thomas of Malden also return for what will technically be their second freshmen season after the NJCAA’s coronavirus decisions.
“It looks like (it will be) a good spring if we get to have it,” Null said. “I feel like we were able to get a pretty good idea of where our kids were at and what we need to work on.”
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic