Jan. 21, 2013
RUSTON - Louisiana Tech head softball coach Mark Montgomery's biggest challenge since returning from Christmas break hasn't been getting his players to work hard in practice.
It's been getting his players on the field to practice. Montgomery and the Lady Techsters have been fighting Mother Nature for the most part since beginning official workouts as they prepare for their opening weekend at the Jimmy John's Lion Classic which will be hosted by Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond Feb. 8-10.
Between an abundance of rainfall over the past few weeks and winter temperatures that have consistently dipped into the 30s and 40s during the day and night, LA Tech has had to make adjustments to practice plans and get the work in when and where they could.
"We were able to get inside and do some stuff in an indoor facility here in town," said Montgomery, who begins his first year in Ruston. "That was great. We were fortunate. We were able to get out on the turf edge of the field and work there and be out on the football field a couple of times. We have certainly taken advantage of any breaks with the weather and we have certainly maximized our time. It's definitely nice to be on some dry dirt finally."
With school out Monday in celebration of Martin Luther King Day, Montgomery and the Lady Techsters capitalized on nicer weather to hold an intra-squad scrimmage during the morning and the veteran Division I coach said he continues to be pleased with what he has seen.
"Constant improvement; daily improvement," Montgomery said. "You always take a step back during break, but they have come out and come out strong. They are really starting to take their game from the fall and improve on it daily. It's exciting to see and exiting to see some of the individual growth out of different players.
"I tell people this all the time. One thing we were absolutely blessed with when we got here was great character kids. Talent is one thing and you always love to have it, but before talent I want great kids who are hard workers. What a blessing to come here and have those types of kids in place. They are working hard and trying to get better every day. I couldn't be more pleased with their effort."
"That's a real strength of this team," Montgomery said. "The ability to have the depth to pitch two games in a day or five games in a weekend and not show the same team the same thing over and over again. That is exciting. They complement each other which is a tremendous asset. That will be one of the strengths of this team. You will see a lot of pitching match-ups and situational pitching that goes on and allows us to maximize the abilities we do have and to beat a lot of really good teams."
Jones served as the ace of the staff last year, starting 32 games while logging more than 200 innings in the circle and recording a 15-16 mark with a 2.86 earned run average. Frandrup (3-4, 1.96 ERA), Kipp (5-7, 5.56) and Goff (2-6, 5.69) combined to make the other 26 starts while working a total of 174.1 innings in the circle.
"I think I would still tell you that Michelle is still our No.1," Montgomery said. "By the end of the year she will probably have thrown more innings (than anyone else), but I don't think we will ask Michelle to pitch the seven inning match-ups as much as she used to throw. You will see her throw four or five innings and then make way for middle relief for an inning or two and then possibly a closer in the last inning.
"I think we are suited to that. We will be more baseball like in how we do our pitching match-ups, and I think it will be a benefit to this team. It will be an adjustment for other teams to see other arms and those match-ups will allow us to maximize our abilities and what we do best."