A new era begins for State Fair Community College women's sports at 2 p.m. Feb. 24 when the Lady Roadrunners softball team takes the field against the Cottey College Comets from Nevada in a doubleheader at Mandy Thomas Field at Centennial Park in Sedalia. Dr. Joanna Anderson, SFCC president, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The Board of Trustees approved the addition of softball along with women's soccer and the return of baseball and men's soccer in December 2015. Softball Head Coach Lyndsey Talbot was hired in January 2016 to start the program; Haley Kinnison is the assistant coach.
"A short recruiting window was a big challenge we faced in building our first softball team at SFCC," said Talbot. "We quickly had to recruit strong players, get to know each other and build a family atmosphere within our program."We are going to be an aggressive team," said Talbot. "I want players diving for balls on defense, and I expect them to run everything out. Offensively, we may do more bunting than usual because of our personnel. We are going to have to manufacture runs; I know that for a fact."
"MacKenze will play just about every inning this year, either in the outfield, the batting lineup or as a pitcher. Emily definitely has the ability to throw a complete game."
The Lady Roadrunners will need contributions from several other key position players this season.
"Mikayla Gustin at shortstop will be one of our leaders on the infield," said Talbot. "She is a smart player. We also need Kaylee Shumaker to step up and lead the outfield whenever MacKenze is not in centerfield. Anna Mae Wilkerson will play almost every inning, either catching or playing third base; she's a natural, smooth athlete. I'm excited to see how she grows throughout the season."
The Lady Roadrunners will have a challenging schedule in their inaugural season. They will play doubleheaders against Northern Oklahoma College-Enid and Iowa Western Community College, teams that have had regional and national success. The Region 16 schedule includes the preseason nationally ranked Jefferson College and the always competitive Crowder College.
Coach Talbot sees several keys to success for her team this season.
"The first key is to keep everyone healthy," said Talbot. "Our pitching will be a key for us. The pitchers have to work with each other, take care of themselves and be productive. The defense also needs to play well behind our pitchers."