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Defending COC champion Lady Tigers counting on their defense to loom large


With Ozark’s defense expected to be a strength, coach Jimmy Nimmo would love to see the Lady Tigers’ pitchers adopt a pitch-to-contact philosophy.

“If (our pitchers) will do their jobs on the rubber, making sure they pound the zone and trust their defense, we're going to have a successful season,” Nimmo said. “As long we keep our walks totals down, we'll be in good shape."

The left side of the infield includes third baseman Allie Muggenburg and shortstops Kelsie Batey and Kaylee Linnebur.

Linnebur started at short as a sophomore, before missing last season following ACL surgery. Batey started at short last year.

Nimmo reported their pre-season battle for the shortstop job was a good one.

“Kelsie and Kaylee make a huge impact on our left side,” Nimmo said. “It’s healthy competition, they're having fun with it. They're making it tough on me. One of them may have to play in the outfield some to balance the lineup out.”

Nimmo has been pleased to see competition for starting jobs play out elsewhere, as well.

“It's going to be very interesting early on,” he said. “We’re going to have different lineups probably for the first third of the season trying to find out what works best.”

Also on the infield are first basemen Kayden Miller and Harlow Hawkins and second baseman Courtney Merrell.

Outfielders include Audrey Carlton, Lyla Wood, Emily Griest, Addy Lewis and possibly Linnebur or Muggenburg.

Ozark’s battery combo will be pitcher Kendall McCoy and catcher Natalie Morgan.

“The junior and senior classes have developed really well as a strong core unit," Nimmo said.

Morgan batted .365 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs last season. Carlton hit .327 with six homers and 37 RBIs. Batey batted .327.

Linnebur batted .280 with three homers and 23 RBIs two years ago.

“We lose some numbers from last season,” Nimmo said of Ozark’s COC championship team last year. “But with Linnebur back, our numbers will be just as high on the offensive side. We have high expectations and a high ceiling for potential.”