Craig Harris/Macon County Times Red Boiling Springs High senior Kylie Birdwell is expected to start in centerfield this season.

Craig Harris/Macon County Times

Red Boiling Springs High senior Kylie Birdwell is expected to start in centerfield this season.

The Red Boiling Springs High softball team advanced to the regional tournament for the first time since 2009 a year ago.

The Lady Bulldogs are hopeful that will become a trend going forward.

"I think it's great," RBS head coach Stacey Mims said. "It helps our confidence. It lets them know we are capable. I just hope it doesn't cause overconfidence, but I don't think that will be a problem."

The Lady Bulldogs finished as the District 6-A Tournament runner-up, falling to Gordonsville in the district championship game.

Seven players who were regularly in the starting lineup last season return.

"It's easier with all of the ones returning, because they don't wonder (about what to expect)," Mims said. "When you have three brand-new kids, you still have to explain so much. They've never played, so you still have to put in some work."

RBS sophomore Jasmine Pruitte was the starting third baseman last season and also pitched some. She is expected to serve as the team's primary pitcher this season.

Pruitte -- who was a member of the District 6-A All-Freshman Team -- posted a .308 batting average with 9 extra-base hits and 27 runs batted in (RBI).

Eighth-grader Nautica Goolsby and senior Maribel Mireles are also options in the pitcher's circle.

"Her seeing a few games last season makes a difference in what she knows is coming," Mims said of Pruitte. "She has added another pitch.

"It's her and an eighth-grader and Maribel. Maribel is very dependable, but she is also a very good second baseman. Then, we found out Nautica can play third (base), so we can use her there. I don't think Jasmine is going to have a big adjustment, but she's going to have to handle the weight (of additional innings)."

Leading the list of returnees is senior shortstop Allison Deckard, who recently signed with Motlow State Community College. Deckard -- the District 6-A Co-Most Valuable Player in 2018 -- hit .355 last season and had a .481 on-base percentage, compiling 15 extra-base hits (including 5 home runs), 30 runs scored and 33 RBI.

"I expect her to lead the team," Mims said. "I expect her to play well, wherever she's put. I also expect her to continue hitting and hit better than she hit last year. I expect great things."

Senior Chloe Kramer returns at catcher after driving in 15 runs a year ago.

"I don't worry about her anymore," Mims said. "She can tell everybody where to go, and with her being aware, I don't worry. It's not a concern."

Mireles returns as the starting second baseman. She scored 18 runs last season.

Goolsby is expected to be at third base, and either senior Kara Davis or sophomore Liliana Hipolito will likely play first base.

Davis was the starting rightfielder last season, while Hipolito is playing for the first time.

Junior Traley Dillard will start in leftfield and will also continue to serve as the team's leadoff hitter. Dillard hit .269 as a sophomore, scored 29 runs and stole 35 bases.

Both Dillard and Kramer were 6-A All-District Second Team selections last season.

"She got the job done her freshman year, and she got the job done last year," Mims said of Dillard. "I don't expect anything different."

Senior Kylie Birdwell played extensively in centerfield last season and is expected to serve in the same capacity again, and senior Cameron Clark is the likely starter in rightfield.

Sophomore Reyna Ruiz could possibly see action in the outfield.

"We're looking for the consistency in making plays," Mims said. "Outfield in high school will make you or break you. You have to be fast.

"Sometimes, outfield is more important than infield. Everybody we play can hit the ball. We need three good, consistent outfielders who can cover ground."

One of the team's biggest concerns is filling the void left by its two 2018 graduates, pitcher Bailey Tucker and outfielder/first baseman Traci Knight.

"I'm concerned with the filling their spots in the batting order," Mims said. "I'm hoping two people can step up. I'm hoping we can make up for those two spots so we don't fall short this year."

Mims expects the same teams to be among the top teams in District 6-A again this season.

"It's the same as last year," Mims said. "It's Gordonsville, Hartsville (Trousdale County). I'm not 100 percent sure about Clay County, but they always compete. Gordonsville is always good. Hartsville was all freshmen last year, so they should be better. The top four last year will be the top four this year.

"Everybody is improving. The kids realize that. They know it's not going to be easy, but they know they can do it."

RBS opens the season on Monday against Upperman. The Lady Bulldogs begin district play with a contest at Clarkrange on Tuesday.

Red Boiling Springs High softball schedule

Date|Location/Opponent|Time

March 11|vs. Upperman|5 p.m.

March 12|at Clarkrange|5 p.m.

March 14|vs. Trousdale County|5 p.m.

March 18|at Upperman|5 p.m.

March 19|vs. Monterey|5 p.m.

March 21|at Pickett County|5 p.m.

March 23|at Monroe County (Kentucky) Invitational)|TBA

March 26|at Clay County|5 p.m.

March 28|vs. Gordonsville|5 p.m.

March 29|vs. Monroe County (Kentucky)|5 p.m.

April 1|at Jackson County|5 p.m.

April 8|vs. Clarkrange|5 p.m.

April 9|at Trousdale County|5 p.m.

April 11|at Monterey|5 p.m.

April 15|vs. Smith County|5 p.m.

April 16|vs. Pickett County|5 p.m.

April 18|vs. Clay County|5 p.m.

April 22|at Smith County|5 p.m.

April 23|at Gordonsville|5 p.m.

April 25|vs. Jackson County|5 p.m.

April 29|at Westmoreland|5 p.m.

May 2|First Round of the District 6-A Tournament|TBA

May 3, 6|Second Round of the District 6-A Tournament|TBA

May 7-11|District 6-A Tournament (at Gordonsville)|TBA