• Bill Caine, Contributing Writer

Anderson reflects on first season as Lady Jackets’ coach

LES ANDERSON, shown giving signals to his catcher, had his team ready for the post season in his first year at the helm of the Lady Jackets, who were  23-5 at that time. (File photo by Rick Capone)

Reflecting on his first season as Woodford County High School softball coach, Les Anderson has many fond memories from this year in which the Lady Jackets had a great run. Anderson had a lot to be pleased with in his first season as the leader of the Woodford squad. While there was a disappointment in not advancing to the state championship final, there were many positives to focus on looking back. The team finished with a 36-7, including postseason play, and looked to build going forward. “I was very pleased with the heart and effort from the players this season,” Anderson said. “The senior leadership was fantastic and the younger players fed off of that energy.” Of the younger players, as many as five freshmen started games during the season and are now battle-tested going forward. “Our freshmen class was huge. And when I think about the experience that they gained this year, I’m extremely hopeful for the future,” Anderson said. “Easy Abel caught great for us this year. She’s only a freshman. So we have good youth coming up. Now they are experienced, and they got a taste of this, they’re going to be hungry, and they’re going to work in this off-season to make sure we get back here and that we have a better result in the long run.” Delaney Enlow with “the shot heard around Woodford County” in regional play against Scott County will be another veteran presence for the Woodford youth movement. Anderson’s roots are deep in the softball community. “I started coaching softball in 1999, and then in 2000 we created the Kentucky Rockers softball club,” said Anderson. After stints of coaching travel softball and middle school, Anderson joined the high school staff and took over the reins this past season. “Most of the seniors are girls I’ve coached since they were eight years old, so they were used to my style of coaching.” There are very few girls playing fast pitch in Woodford County who have not had Anderson work with them on some aspect of their game. The number of travel programs is increasing, and the local teams are traveling all over to play against the best competition. Ultimately, the younger teams will filter down and feed the high school program into a powerhouse for years to come. “When I was coaching travel softball and had Caitlin Karo and Bethany Todd as younger players, we traveled from San Diego to New York City,” Anderson said. “The players and their families have gone out of their way to work hard and achieve excellence.” The years of coaching youth softball have become part of his DNA. “I love the game, and I do not relax much,” said Anderson. “We’ll have hitting clinics and begin our fall workouts in August. I also encourage multisport athletes, so some of the kids will play volleyball or basketball this fall.” As long as the interest in the game stays within the county, the Woodford County Lady Jackets will have a great leader, mentor, and friend in coach Les Anderson. The Woodford coach is easy to talk to and his steadfast leadership reflects in his team’s effort and sportsmanship. “This is what I love to do, and we are looking to get better every day. If the kids want to be better and chase their goals, then we have to be there for them. That is the whole purpose of the game, to chase excellence,” said Anderson. Winning softball games can certainly make a coaching job enjoyable, but the way in which this collection of talent came together to a group of senior pillars – playing every pitch with a hard-nosed demeanor, but having fun while they did it – that made Anderson’s 2017 campaign a gem to watch.

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