Cedar Creek softball primed for big season

By T. Scott Boatright

Cedar Creek crushed its 2022 softball District 2-1A opener, defeating River Oaks 15-0 in three innings on Thursday at home.

And the Lady Cougars are priming themselves for what they hope is a deeper foray into the Division IV playoffs after defeating St. Edmund in the opening round last year before falling to third-seeded Ascension Catholic 8–3 in second-round play.

Cedar Creek head coach Julie Riser is optimistic about this season, which her Lady Cougars have started off at 4-2 after the win over River Oaks.

“We have never played River Oaks, so I really didn’t know what to expect,” Riser said following Thursday’s game. “All I had looked at was scores, and this was our first district game of the year. We just tried to stay focused, because you never know. And I thought we were focused and did well.”

The Lady Cougars returned a vast portion of last year’s team intact save for 2021’s lone senior — third baseman Riley Spradlin, who earned Class 1A All-State honorable mention last year.

“I’ve got two seniors and a good group of juniors with a lot of playing experience who know what they’re doing,” Riser said.

One of those seniors is 2021 all-state shortstop Sarah Adams, who batted .500 last season.

“She’s a force and one of our main leaders,” Riser said. “She was a big player for us last year and will be again this season.”

Leading off Cedar Creek will be junior outfielder Allie Furr.

“She’s a hard out and knows how to make contact and find ways to get on base,” Riser said of Furr. “She’s fast and can put pressure on the defense. She hit a home run the last game. So she’s definitely going to put pressure on the defense.”

Riser said lack of offense isn’t a problem for her Lady Cougars.

“They all hit the ball so well,” Riser said. “Sarah leads us in home runs right now with three. Lillian (Soto) can knock it out, and so can Lizzie (McAdams). Our one through nine (players) have the potential to hit it hard and put it into play.”

Chloe Brashear and McAdams will be Cedar Creek’s primary two pitchers this season.

“They’re kind of 1-2. Every game we’ve played they’ve split it, like today,” Riser said. “They’re the two that have pitched in most of our varsity games and they’ll probably keep splitting things most of the season.”

Both Brashear and McAdams will see action off the bump, too.

“Chloe is in the lineup as a hitter when she’s not pitching,” Riser said. “And Linzie started at third base today. They’re pretty versatile. Chloe can play first. Lizzie can play first. I kind of like to save Chloe from fielding because I’ve got other kids who can contribute and I like to keep her legs fresh for pitching and hitting.”

The Lady Cougars also have solid depth with Riser saying she has 10 or 11 players who will get plenty of starts before the end of regular-season play.

“We’ve got a good group we’ll rotate through as starters and we’ve got some younger girls who will contribute. I’ve got two seniors, six juniors and a couple of sophomores as starters,” Riser said.

Olivia Underwood, Zoe Graham and Anna Grace Lee will likely see a majority of playing time in the outfield for Cedar Creek.

One constant the Lady Cougars have had under Riser’s guidance is fundamental fielding.

“We drill them — work them pretty hard,” Riser said. “You’ve got to have defense. If you can’t throw and catch balls, then you’re not going to go very far. It’s all about fundamentals. That’s what we do and these girls have grown up doing that. They’re used to it.”

As the Lady Cougars move into the District 2-1A season, Riser realizes they’ll face some challenges.

“I think our biggest competition will be (St. Frederick),” Riser said. “They were strong last season and actually beat us. Then there’s OCS, and then Oak Grove. Those teams are up there. We have a pretty good district competition wise.”

To prepare for that district season, the Lady Cougars have stuck with another tradition, facing solid teams whether they come from a larger classification or not.

“We always schedule hard,” Riser said. “We play ASH (Alexandria) and Many Saturday, and those are going to be two tough games. We’ve got Haughton, we’ve got West Ouachita, Sterlington and then OCS next week.

“We played Ouachita last weekend and South Beauregard and then St. Mary’s in a tournament. We lost those last two games. But I had kids out for both of those games, and hopefully they were learning moments. I feel like if I would have had everybody there, we’d be undefeated right now, so I feel good about this season’s future.”