In a perfect world, a team's lineup would be ironed out when the season opens.
That's not the case for the Jefferson City softball team this season. There could be some tinkering into the middle of the season.
"At the beginning you can kind of move things around a little bit, but midseason you want to kind of have things set to try and get things rolling at the right time," Jefferson City head coach Lisa Dey said as the Lady Jays prepare to open the season at 4:15 p.m. today at Troy.
For the Lady Jays, that lineup tinkering involves the batting order, as well as who will be in the circle. And as it goes in softball, the key could lie with the pitcher.
Right now the task falls on junior Krista Brickey and sophomore Alyssa Schulte. Brickey saw a lot of time pitching at the JV level while Schulte backed up the graduated Katelyn Rush.
"In softball, if you have a primary pitcher you can pitch her quite a bit," Dey said. "We're just kind of waiting to see. Right now it's kind of up in the air. We'll just kind of wait and see if one of them is on the mound we might be stronger defensively behind them than the other one. One might be hitting better than the other one, too."
Strong performances in the circle could be big for the Lady Jays after they allowed more than 3.5 runs per game during last season's 13-12 season that ended with a 7-0 loss to Hickman in the district title game.
Dey has not decided yet how she will rotate the pitchers.
"It will be a situation where they're not going to overpower anybody," Dey said. "But they'll be able to hit their location spots and kind of mix up speeds."
The Lady Jays will be missing two key components from last year's squad, as third baseman Madison Washington transferred to Fulton and center fielder Jordan Moore decided not to come out.
But Jefferson City does return some experience in the lineup. Senior first baseman Allyson Metz returns to play first base; sophomore Taylor Dey, who played mostly JV last season, moves in at second base; Dakota Newton is back at shortstop; and junior Darby Brundage returns to play third base.
Dey, who said she had hoped her defense would have been better last year, thinks this year the defense could be a strength.
"We're going to have to play defense," Dey said. "That's the bottom line without a doubt."
The Lady Jays return a pair of catchers who saw plenty of varsity time last year in senior Riley Hays and junior Brooke Rozier. Whoever is not catching at any particular time will likely go to the outfield.
"Catching is solid, phenomenal behind the plate," Dey said.
The outfield will likely include sophomore Katie Tambke in center and a mixture of others in right or left that could include whoever is not catching or pitching.
Dey would like to see some more consistency out of the lineup this season. Last year the Lady Jays scored at least 10 runs in eight games. But they also scored three runs or fewer in 10 games.
"I feel like they in a sense kind of felt like they had to put so much pressure on themselves to score runs, and then I think that might have hurt them a little bit," Dey said. "But I think it's kind of taking the approach of relax and have fun, things will happen."
Added Dey: "I feel really strong with the lineup. It's kind of one of those things you see how it goes. You kind of mess with it a little bit throughout the season."
Jefferson City is moving fields once again. After a few years at Lincoln University, the Lady Jays will move back to the American Legion Sports Complex this season.
The move means the JV will play first, followed by the varsity. It also makes it easier for parents to attend games since they won't have to start at 4 p.m.
"Lincoln treated us like gold," Dey said. "We would go to practice every day and that field was watered, drug, it was good to go. (Lincoln softball coach) Nicole Stacey was great. The downfall was the kids had to get out of school a lot earlier because we started games at 4. I think at one point, when the season was over, they had to reintroduce themselves to their fourth-block teacher."