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Hot Dogs stout in Carroll scrimmage

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THROWING DARTS: Frankfort sophomore Makayla Harper didn’t allow a run in one inning of work during Monday’s scrimmage against Carroll, in a format where 10 batters would come to the plate per inning for each side.
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CHILLY DUGOUT: Players in Frankfort’s dugout stayed close with many bundled up during a frigid softball scrimmage at Carroll High School on Monday. The Hot Dogs begin their regular season tonight at home against Lafayette Central Catholic starting at 5:30 p.m.
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SOLID AT SECOND: Senior Jenna Rockhold, throwing to first, started at second base in Monday’s scrimmage at Carroll.
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SMILING TO THIRD: Frankfort senior Avery Drew smiles as she reaches third base after hitting a single and advancing two bases on an error during Monday’s scrimmage at Carroll.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Frankfort dominated host Carroll for most of a three-inning scrimmage in chilly weather on Monday, with the Hot Dogs head coach expecting to learn more about his team when the season starts tonight at home against Lafayette Central Catholic.

“I think that will be more telling of where we stand,” Gary Drew said of tonight’s 5:30 p.m. game. “It’s kind of hard in the scrimmage format to really evaluate too much and especially when it was really the first time the girls were able to get outside. You can only work on so much hitting in a cage inside, going off a pitching machine instead of actually seeing a live arm.”

Frankfort only played its varsity players in the first two innings on Monday, with the JV taking over in the third and a scheduled fourth inning scrapped due to the cold. The scrimmage was played under IHSAA rules for such games, with each team sending 10 batters to the plate per inning regardless of the number of outs.

Frankfort sophomore Makayla Harper would have nearly recorded three innings of scoreless ball in the first (and her only) inning in the circle. She allowed no runs while facing her 10 batters. In contrast, eight Hot Dogs reached base with only two strikeouts of their 10 batters.

“I think they scored two in the second inning,” Drew said. “Avery (Drew) struggled a little bit with her control. She hasn’t pitched since last year’s high school season so she’s got to get her sea legs back I guess. She’ll come back for us. She’s one of our solid leaders.

“We did three innings and we did three completely different lineups in each inning,” coach Drew said. “It’s hard to say who is going to be impact players yet because I wanted to see girls at different positions. With the exception of a couple positions, everybody else changed from the first inning to the second inning and then the third inning we ran the JV team out there.”

The strong inning was encouraging for Harper after registering a 10.24 ERA last year as a freshman in 41 innings of work.

“She pitched a little bit for us last year,” Drew said. “She and Avery pitched most of the time for us last year.”

Avery Drew had a 4.71 ERA while pitching 74.1 innings last year. Freshman Sydney Whitaker pitched the third inning for the Hot Dogs on Monday.

“Sydney will get some time,” coach Drew said. “She’s a freshman so I want to get her a little bit of exposure.”

The defense started the first inning with a mix of seniors and underclassmen as senior Kimee Kingma covered first with senior Jenna Rockhold at second, freshman Karim Quinones at short and Katie Roberts at third.

“It will be really close to that (to start the season),” Drew said.

“At catcher was Kylie Norman, another one of our sophomores. Last year she got her experience and this year we are expecting a lot more out of her. She caught every game for us last year.

“Chloe Roberts, one of our juniors, we’ve moved her to the outfield now,” he noted. “She’ll be wandering around center field. She tracks the ball really well.

“Defensively I think we’re going to be really strong.”

Offensively, the Hot Dogs have a couple hitters they know they can count on, but the rest is a work in progress.

“Yet to be determined,” Drew said. “Avery’s coming back. Last year she was first-team all county, all conference and big school. She led the conference in on-base percentage and was second in hitting percentage batting around .500 (.491). She’s our leadoff. That’s who will be starting us off. We’ve got a couple of underclassmen that are showing great promise. Karim Quinones, I think she’ll be an impact player coming in as a freshman. We’ve got some girls that are sophomores this year that I think are going to make a big difference.

“They got the experience last year of playing varsity and now it’s a matter of them stepping up and being a little more comfortable with where they’re at.”

Another Hot Dog hitter with a track record is senior Morgan Dean, who played left field last year but will be a utility player this year expecting to see time in the outfield, at third base and as a catcher.

“Morgan brings a lot of power,” Drew said. “She’s got a really big stick, so we have to have her bat in the lineup. She’s an impact player. She can change a game with just one swing.

“One thing we definitely need to do is incorporate her bat because she’s just raw power every time she gets a hold of it.”

Dean hit .356 last year leading the team with 13 RBIs and six doubles. Drew led the team with 16 runs and 23 steals last year, while Chloe Roberts batted .297 and was second on the team in RBIs (12) and runs (15). Other returnees with more than 35 plate appearances are Katie Roberts (.268), Kingma (.241), Norman (.226), Rockhold (.229) and senior Karleigh Bessler (.204). Senior Jordan Anderson and sophomore Haylee Hannon also saw significant playing time last year. 

“We struggled a little bit last year,” Drew said of their 6-14 (3-11 Sagamore Conference) campaign. “We graduated one girl last year, but otherwise we have everybody back.

“We’ve got a lot of young girls that have a lot of travel ball experience that I think are going to be an integral part of the team,” he added. “We’re young, but I think we have a good blend of senior leadership to go with some of the underclassmen that are coming in.

“I’m optimistic. I just want to be better at the end of the year than in the beginning, but in the same respect I want to build on the momentum that we gained last year. Our record didn’t necessarily reflect it, but I felt the improvement we had was significant and hopefully we keep building on that.”

The Hot Dogs begin their conference season with a home game on Tuesday and an away game on April 4 against Crawfordsville. They play in the Clinton Prairie Classic on April 13, host Rossville on April 22 and play in the county tourney at Rossville on April 27. Sectionals begin on May 20.