Lady 'Dogs building on talent

By Marvin Birchfield

   The Hampton Lady Bulldogs are in the situation of having to learn on what stepping up to the plate really means if they plan to be a contender within the Watauga Conference.
   Hampton must deal with its lack of experience on the team, which is mainly made up of underclassmen, but as far raising its talent level, it might be a challenge they can meet.
   "We're a young team, but they are really talented, so we're going to keep working on things and continue to get better," said Hampton coach Pat Kelly.
   One of the key and most important assets to this ballclub this season will be the leadership of junior Joy Gardner, who has made great plays and become a big impact for the 'Dogs at times.
   "In our shortstop position we feel like we're pretty strong right now with Joy Gardner," said Kelly.
   Hampton looks to get some vital effort from sophomore pitcher Heather Chambers, who currently gives the strongest performance in the 'Dogs bull-pen.
   "Heather Chambers has pitched some good innings for us so far, so her and Joy are two of our strengths right now," said Kelly.
   The Lady 'Dogs had very little success last season, so the gap in their room for improvement is still quite marginal, even though their future has bright spots ahead.
   "We need to improve in just about every area, and we're going to keep working in practice like we have been and hopefully the kids will respond," said Kelly.
   As far as the expectations in the conference, Hampton is primarily looking to improve and possibly earn themselves a good seed in the post-season tournament.
   "It's hard to say how we are going to fare in the season. It's still too early, and of course we would like to be on top, but hopefully we'll be somewhere in the middle and get a good seed for the tournament," said Kelly.
   Their chances of making a statement this year are better than what expected for last season, due to the newcomers who provide a spark.
   "We're definitely improved from last season, and we have a lot of raw talent that we just need to work with," said Kelly.
   It'll probably take the 'Dogs most of the season to iron out their mistakes, but nobody remembers how the season started but only how it ends.
   "When you have as many freshman and sophomores as we do then you're going to make mistakes, but we're just going to continue on trying to get better," said Kelly.
   The 'Dogs are going with the philosophy on taking the approach of one day at a time, which hopefully will result in their focus from game to game with limited letdowns.
   "We're going to take things one day at a time and make sure that everybody is getting better giving 100 percent in every game that we go out and play in," said Kelly.