Flagler Palm Coast will start two sophomore transfer pitchers this season in hopes of getting back to states.
The Flagler Palm Coast Lady Bulldogs lost a heartbreaking game to DeLand in the district championship last season. Then, FPC lost in the first round of the state playoffs to Mandarin.
The Lady Bulldogs finished the season 21-9.
Because of redistricting done by the Florida High School Athletics Association, FPC will be in District 1-8A, a three-team district with Mandarin and Sandalwood.
Coach Sarah Poppe enters her fourth season with the Lady Bulldogs with a career coaching record at FPC of 45-29.
Poppe, who is pregnant and due mid-season, will have help with Mike Sokol, who has previously coached at FPC.
Sokol’s strength is pitching, an area Poppe expects to be one of FPC’s strengths this season.
Senior Lee Ann Spivey will anchor the battery as catcher. Sophomore transfers Morgan Lambert and Gabby Maynard will lead the Lady Bulldogs in pitching. Both throw in the upper-50s.
Five starters from last season are returning to the Lady Bulldogs’ lineup. Poppe said this year’s team seems poised to be more successful than last year’s team.
And success begins in the pitcher’s circle.
“In the past, we had to move players around to fill the pitcher’s position,” Poppe said.
The Lady Bulldogs’ top pitcher last season was Kelsey Donahue, who graduated.
“The big difference between last season and this season is we have two pitchers who want to pitch at the college level and are capable of doing that,” Poppe said.
Ashton Stevens, a senior, is making the switch from left field to center field to fill the void left by graduate and leadoff hitter Kayla Lamphier. Gabby Cochran, a sophomore who battled injuries last season, will take over in left field. Cochran hit .474 in limited action last season.
Freshman Breanna Blackledge will take over the hot corner at third base. Poppe describes Blackledge as a power hitter.
Though Poppe will have to leave the team during the heart of the season, she said the coaching staff in place is ready to take over. Poppe also said the players have accepted the circumstances and are understanding.
“This year, we expect to have a tremendous season — even better than the year prior,” Poppe said.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Lee Ann Spivey, Sr., C: Spivey, who committed to the University of South Florida last year, will be the anchor of this year’s team both batting and playing catcher. Spivey hit .557 last season with three home runs and 34 RBIs.
Sam Mittel, Jr., 1B: Mittel hit .378 last season with one home run and 30 RBIs, including six doubles.
Morgan Lambert, Soph., P: Lambert is a transfer student from Calvary Christian. Last season, Lambert had a .072 ERA and also hit .590.
6 p.m., Feb. 7 Spruce Creek
6:30 p.m., Feb. 9 Atlantic
6:30 p.m., Feb. 15 Taylor
4 p.m., Feb. 16 @ Pine Ridge
6:30 p.m., Feb. 17 Matanzas
6:30 p.m., Feb. 21 @ Mandarin
6:30 p.m, Feb. 24 @ Sandalwood
4 p.m., Feb. 28 @ University
Contact Andrew O’Brien at [email protected].