By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Last spring was a learning experience for a young Concord University softball squad under first-year head coach Alisa Tasler. “Focus and consistency” were the bywords.
A three-game winning streak at the end of the season helped boost the Mountain Lions’ confidence coming into this year.
Tasler said in a preseason interview, “The team last year did a great job of staying positive and fighting through any rough spots that we might have had.
“They persevered and definitely ended the season on a high note that we believe we will be able to take with us into this upcoming season.”
Concord was 20-29 last spring, just missing the West Virginia Conference tournament. Picked in the preseason to finish ninth in the league, the Mountain Lions have posted a 4-5 record so far this year, playing in weekend series in North Carolina.
Lacey McDougall will be counted on in the pitcher’s circle and batter’s box. She was second team all-conference and batted a team-high .390 in her freshman year last year.
“She is a great young player for us,” Tasler said. “There are many games last year that she was the spark we needed at the plate too really get something started, and I believe she will do the same this year. I believe she will see more time in the circle this year, and she is definitely up to the challenge.”
“She has stepped up and is becoming a leader for this team,” the coach said.
Tasler said about McDougall’s pitching, “She has good control and moves the ball around very well.”
“We will have four individuals do the majority of the pitching for us, all of them are returners. One, Rachael Mack, is coming off an injury from a year ago. I believe we have a well-balanced pitching staff that complements each other very well.”
One of those pitchers is James Monroe graduate Karsyn Boothe.
Senior Becca Gleason, who was honorable mention in the 2012 all-conference lists, has batted a team-best .458 through this year’s nine games.
Tasler said, “Becca was our starting catcher last year and did a great job for us, but this year we will be moving her back to the outfield, and allowing a freshman [Alyssa Morris] to take the starting catcher’s role.”
The coach called Gleason “a fierce competitor no matter where you put her on the field and she always comes to play. I have seen a lot of improvement on the offensive side as well. She will be a great asset to us again this year.”
Tasler said, “Stephanie Harper will also be an impact player for us again this year. She will split time in the circle and first base. She is a very smart player and has the ability to come up big when we need it.”
Morris is expected to “make an immediate impact on this team” as a freshman, Tasler said.
“She will primary play catcher for us this year. She does a great job framing the plate and really knowing her role behind the plate. Not only will see be a great asset to us behind the plate, she will also have a big impact in the batter’s box. She is a very capable power hitter (who) sees the ball well.”
The experience gained last season should bring some dividends in the current campaign, the coach predicted.
“We ended on a definite high note last year. That can only help a young squad,” Tasler said. “We are very young, but many of those youngsters got a lot of playing time last year. I believe that is going to be a great help to us this year and years to come.”
— Contact Tom Bone at