Lincoln softball coach Nicole Stacey wants this coming season to be nothing like last year, even if the season was one for the record books.
The Blue Tigers went 16-30 last year, which doesn't seem like much until you consider that was just one win shy of matching the best total in school history. The 16 victories were just one behind the mark put up by the teams in 1999-2000 (17-31) and 2000-01 (17-32).
But it was the off-the-field concerns that trumped the on-the-field results.
"What I used as an example is a chemistry set," Stacey said. "I brought this set together and started throwing in the chemicals and it started blowing up in my face. It really blew up toward the end. Because of our maturity level, we didn't have the leadership to come to me during the year to let me know these issues were going on.
"Now we have girls that are true leaders and coming forward to say, "Hey coach, this is what we're facing.' Our biggest thing was bringing this team together."
The Blue Tigers will see how well they've come together starting today, as they open the season in the Five State Classic in Bentonville, Ark., with eight games in four days. Lincoln will have eight returnees and five newcomers making up the squad.