CARTHAGE — The Neosho Lady Wildcats will field a young team this season for new head coach Catie Cummins, a former Neosho High standout who played collegiately at Pittsburg State and served as an assistant at Neosho last season under previous head coach Megan Burleson.

CARTHAGE — The Neosho Lady Wildcats will field a young team this season for new head coach Catie Cummins, a former Neosho High standout who played collegiately at Pittsburg State and served as an assistant at Neosho last season under previous head coach Megan Burleson.
The Lady Wildcats feature four seniors (Kaylee Johnson, Tori Frazier, Angelica Fallatt, and Olivia Rowe) and three juniors (Taylor Baker, Amber Shepeard, and Breanna Slavens), and a horde of sophomores and freshmen, including sophomore pitcher Kyla Daspit. Neosho relied on Cloe Neece heavily in the circle for three seasons, and she's now plying her trade as a freshman at Crowder.
Neosho finished 1-1-1 (4-0 win over Carl Junction, 1-1 tie against Joplin, and a 3-1 loss to Carthage) in a jamboree Tuesday at Carthage.
"I thought we did a lot of things well," Cummins said. "Our pitcher (Daspit) kept us in every game. We got a lot of baserunners on. We just didn't push them across the plate, so in turn we tied one, lost one, and won one, but we had a lot of runners on all day that didn't cross the plate and it kinda defeats the purpose. In softball, you've got to score and we didn't do a lot of scoring."
In their final turn at-bat of the jamboree, Neosho busted loose for four runs, sparked by a Frazier single, a Baker two-run double, and a Sierra Jones RBI single.
Down 2-1 in the top of the third against Carthage, the Lady Wildcats had the tying run on third with less than two outs, but failed to earn a tie score and Carthage pushed across one more run in the final half-inning.
"We definitely want to go to the right side with that and score that runner," Cummins said. "Any grounder or fly ball to the right side, we're getting that runner in. Not frustrated. We've got a lot of underclassmen coming in that are still learning the game, so it's good to have this jamboree before our first game because it shows where our weaknesses are and what we need to work on. I am excited to get back to practice (Wednesday), hit the ground running, and work on those few glaring weaknesses that I saw."
At the end of the day Tuesday, Neosho remained 0-0 and the Lady Wildcats open their season at home Monday against Cassville, a Big 8 Conference opponent just one win shy of a sectional appearance last season in Class 3.
Senior center fielder Frazier and junior catcher Baker are key returning players, but the rest of the charges are young players and so Tuesday was especially important for them in the experience department. Maybe their nerves won't be as high Monday.
"I also get to coach the junior high team in the spring," Cummins said. "I'm trying to build a program here, so getting those players in seventh and eighth grade to buy into this, it's big for us. It's nice that we get some nice weather.
"We're doing a good job. Like I said, we have a lot of underclassmen that will be playing varsity and I think they will be stepping up to their roles. I think we played a little nervous today and it's never good to play nervous. You want to play like you're out for blood and ready to go, so I think we'll get that fire. That's something we're working on, to get those nerves out of the way and have that passion for winning."
After the jamboree, Cummins identified the strengths of this season's Wildcats.
"Defensively, we have improved a lot," she said. "We have the hitters and like I said, we had a lot of runners on. We just didn't push them across. Our situational hitting has got to improve and once we do that, I think we'll be just fine scoring runs."

2017 NEOSHO SOFTBALL
Roster
No.    Player
4    Kaylee Johnson
7    Tori Frazier
30    Angelica Fallatt
21    Olivia Rowe
19    Taylor Baker
6    Amber Shepeard
27    Breanna Slavens
17    Cheyenne Bates
13    Kayla Bach
5    Kyla Daspit
28    Mikayla Long
15    Megan Geller
8    Sam Ortiz
3    Kaitlyn Hawkins
10    Tristan Atkinson
9    Brittany Winchester
1    Hannah Newell
14    Kadelyn Ackerson
20    Keatan Keeler
16    Avery Renfro
12    Sierra Jones
Head coach: Catie Cummins
Assistant: Melissa Clark

SCHEDULE
Aug. 21 — vs. Cassville
Aug. 24 — vs. McDonald County
Aug. 25-26 — Joplin Tournament
Aug. 29 — at Branson
Aug. 31 — at Ozark
Sept. 5 — vs. Willard
Sept. 6 — at Joplin
Sept. 7 — vs. Carl Junction
Sept. 12 — vs. Nixa
Sept. 14 — at Republic
Sept. 15-16 — Adair Tournament
Sept. 18 — at Wyandotte
Sept. 21 — vs. Webb City
Sept. 25 — at East Newton
Sept. 26 — at Carthage
Sept. 29-30 — Carthage Tournament
Oct. 2 — at Seneca