VIDEO: Taylor Scott Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - The following is the final part in a three-part series chronicling Carson-Newman softball's positions for 2019. First baseman Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) analyzes C-N's infield for the upcoming season.
Carson-Newman's infield features the only players lost to graduation from 2018. Second baseman Kristen Toppel is still in Mossy Creek as a member of Michael Graves coaching staff. Meanwhile, third baseman Katie Pritchett is teaching fourth grade in Chattanooga.
However, while the Eagles break in new bodies at second and third, there's experience to burn at first and short.
Scott has started 106 of 109 games at first in her career while shortstop Leah Sohm (Knoxville, Tenn.) started the final 48 games of her freshman campaign at the position after dealing with injuries at the start of the year.
"We've been working hard in practice, and it's been competitive," Scott said. "We know we have to compete hard for our position. That's making us better as a team."
Much like catcher KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Scott went through a sophomore slump at the plate. She hit .229 last year with four doubles and two home runs. Her freshman year, Scott tallied a .292 average with 13 doubles and six home runs. Her 13 doubles as a freshman led the team.
"I have to be more consistent," Scott said. "I have to hit my pitch. It sounds simple, but it really does boil down to not being hot and cold."
Janelle Benzick (Virginia Beach, Va.) adds depth at first. As a junior, she appeared in 12 games with four starts. She went 4-for-15 at the plate. She hit her first career home run against Erskine on Feb. 6. That day also featured her lone multi-RBI effort on the year.
At short, the Eagles will rely on Sohm.
"Leah is Leah," Scott said. "You won't find anyone who works any harder than her at that position. She wants to get every ball and you have the utmost confidence that she will get every ball."
She came on late to hit .295. Sohm tallied 18 hits in 61 at-bats. She scored 24 runs. Sohm had multi-hit efforts against Mars Hill and New Haven. She hit a triple against Mount Olive. She stole three bases in one game against the Chargers, two off the single-game school record. She helped the Eagles walk it off against Limestone by laying down a squeeze bunt in extra innings. Sohm made nine errors in 193 total chances last year.
Valerie Seay (Cross Plains, Tenn.) makes the transition from centerfield to cover second base this year. Seay saw a smidgen of time at the position last year and only made one error as a freshman.
Primarily a flex player for the Eagles, Seay went 3-for-14 at the plate with six runs scored.
"Her speed and agility has helped her transition from the outfield," Scott said. "She's a natural. She stepped in there last year, so she knows what it takes to win a championship."
Freshman Leslie Dixon (London, Ky.) will back her up. Dixon is the two-time reigning 13th region player of the year for Kentucky and has been named all-region tournament twice, all-district tournament four times.
Rager hit .307 for her career at Morehead State. She has 16 career doubles, three triple and 11 home runs. She has produced 63 career RBI with 40 coming during her sophomore year when she was named All-OVC first team. Rager primarily played first when she was with MSU and has a .983 career fielding percentage.
"Allison is a really good leader," Scott said. "She leads by example and makes everyone else on the team want to work harder. Ashtyn's work ethic is top notch. I'm so excited for her to get an opportunity to be a factor on this team because she's put in the time."
Patterson will see her role increase mightily from her freshman season. She appeared in six games and made one start at second when Kristen Toppel had to give a senior seminar presentation for a class.
In high school, Patterson hit better than .400 in both her sophomore and senior seasons with .441 and .486 tallies, respectively. She was a four-time all-district pick and earned All-State honors from the TSCA in 2016. As a senior, she was named district player of year while leading UCHS to back-to-back district titles, including the program's first state tournament run in 2016
Carson-Newman opens the season Feb. 1 against Young Harris in Milledgeville, Ga.