By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – If experience leads to confidence, Bedford North Lawrence is positioned to take big, bold swings during the 2023 campaign.
With seven players returning, after losing only one starting senior from last year’s 13-6 squad, the Stars have the talent and conviction to make a lot of noise. The only real question is where the veterans will land in the lineup. Head coach Joni Stigall will figure out that answer . . . eventually.
“Do I play people at doubles or play them at singles?” Stigall said. “It could be a match-by-match case. I know who can play. It’s where do I play them to get the best outcome for our whole team. It’s like the puzzle pieces, putting them in the right spot.”
So here are the names that will be drawn out of the proverbial hat. Start with seniors Bella Stigall and Mallory Pride, a successful doubles duo. They also have the complete-game ability to compete in singles. BNL’s second doubles unit of Kenley Craig and Izzy Alldredge also proved to be a quality tandem.
If those four lock down the doubles courts, that leaves Becca Epping (who is returning after an elbow injury cost her the second half of last season), Nadia Anderson (who stepped into the void when Epping was sidelined) and Italy Lewis for the singles slots. Someone will have to take the place of four-year starter Rachel Kidd, who held the No.1 spot.
“I still don’t know who will fill that spot. Rachel played for four years,” Stigall said. “There are days Bella can come out, and nobody will beat her at singles. I can’t gauge where she will play. It’s hard to break up a doubles team, but she needs singles experience (after signing to play at Johnson University). And it’s my job to get her ready for that. Becca needs some doubles experience, so I need to get them ready.”
Whatever order works out, BNL is expecting big things.
“I’m excited for the season,” Bella Stigall said. “I think it will go really well. It could be one of the best seasons we’ve had. We can definitely have a good record.”
BNL bowed out of the sectional semifinal, after finishing fourth in the Hoosier Hills Conference and winning the title in the Scottsburg Invitational. The goals now are greater.
“My expectations are to improve on that record,” coach Stigall said. “Improve on our ability to win.”
The Stars will start the season at Barr-Reeve on April 3.