The Duncan Lady Demons softball team is putting the building blocks together around a young team that only returns three starters in 2019.

The Lady Demons have been spending time since mid-June at the Marlow Summer League/Scrimmages and second year coach Jeremy Bates has used the league to get some of the younger players valuable playing time.

“We have been at the Marlow Scrimmage Festival … trying to get some kids some playing time because we only have three returning starters from last year,” Bates said. “We got a lot of kids that haven’t had the field time they need to, so that is where we have been spending a lot of our time is just trying to rebuild and trying to get kids ready for the fall.”

Bates mentioned that the attendance for this full week of practice has been good with very few kids missing practices and he is seeing the hard work they are putting in to the fundamentals of play.

The 2019 Lady Demons will have four seniors with Holly Hill being the only one of them having significant playing time and she is one of the three returning starters for Duncan’s softball team.

Offensively for the Lady Demons, Bates said that Hill will be in the middle of the lineup and will need to have a big part of scoring runs along with the rest of the team.

“She is going to be the main offense for us. She will probably be the middle of the lineup,” Bates said. “On the offensive side, she will have to really step up and fill the holes from the last year group while driving in some runs.”

Also returning for the Lady Demons is junior Alyssa Childers who will be the main pitcher for Duncan High School. Bates had high praise for the work she has put in this summer.

“Alyssa Childers is going to have to step up as a pitcher. She has been working really hard throwing and going to lessons while putting in the extra time,” Bates said. “She has been working on throwing strikes and keeping us in ball games.”

The final starter returning for the Lady Demons will be Kira Pickerell who is a sophomore and will be focusing on playing the infield positions according to Bates.

“She is going to have to get on base for us on offense and really play some solid defense while trying to be a leader in that way,” Bates said. “We have a lot of young kids that are just getting out there and being in the starting lineup for the first time. Those three have to really help out to keep everyone in the right direction.”

Duncan’s roster will most likely have 14 kids on it, which is small compared to some of the Class 5A teams in the area. Bates said they will be building up the participation numbers in the years coming.

After completing this first official week of practice, Bates will be heading to Tulsa for the coaches clinic with the rest of the coaches in the state and has told the girls they won’t have practices, but he wants them to be active.

“I told the girls that you are going to be off for the next five or six days, but you can’t be off doing nothing,” Bates said. “We are starting to get a little better in shape as far as being able to deal with the heat and I made them all take a class online from the NFHS website about heat illness so they can be prepared for practices and staying hydrated. I can’t have anybody coming off the field due to something like that. We got to have everybody out there participating and making us a better team.”

The team will return to practice next week starting on Thursday. Bates said the main thing he has preached to the girls is to give their 100 percent effort in everything they do.

“We are going to go out there and be scrappy while continuing to fight to give everything that we get. That is what I tell the girls everyday, the only thing we can control more than anything is your effort because you can’t control balls or strikes that the umpire calls or what happens to the other side with the other team,” Bates said. “You can only control how hard you play and what you do with that effort so I’m just trying to make sure I get the max out of each one of these girls and making us competitive. If we do that we can pretty much play with anybody.”

Duncan’s next scrimmages at Marlow will take place at 6:40 p.m. Monday July 29 against Lindsay and then at approximately 8 p.m. Monday July 29 against Comanche.