Eight returning lettermen will bring plenty of experience to the table this season for the McClain High School softball team — and with four of them being seniors, coach Ed Bolender said he’s looking forward to improving on last year’s record.
“After going 3-15 last year, our main focus is just to get better every day,” he said. “With a mixture of returning lettermen and the newcomers that we have coming in, we’re going to expect to win games and hopefully compete for the last SCOL title.”
Four of Bolender’s returning players are seniors, with Mackenzie Anderson on second base, Shantel Lanburn on first base and Abby Shrout on the mound as starting pitcher.
Megan McAdams will be a utility-type outfielder, Bolender said.
“All the returning kids have been getting out there pretty well,” he said. “Strength-wise, with eight returning lettermen, we have some good experience returning. Those kids have a played a lot of varsity innings, so nothing should be a surprise to us… Another strength is we have some kids who can play multiple positions, so we have some competition for some spots right now.”
Two key newcomers this season are freshman Beckley Smith, penciled in for third base, while sophomore Liz Kegley will start behind the plate, Bolender said.
Currently, Bolender said the team’s most vital challenge is eliminating errors – and to do that, they’ve been getting back to basics in practice.
“This whole pre-season has just been us getting back to basics so far,” he said. “We had a bunch of errors last season that cost us a lot… so it’s been a little different this off-season. The biggest key for us is we’ve got to cut down on the errors. We lost a lot of games by just a few runs last year, so if we quit giving runs away, we can turn some of those losses into wins. That’s the biggest thing right now.”
On the offensive end, Bolender said the team has some improvements to make.
“Offensively, just coming through with that key hit with runners and scoring positions,” he said. “We left quite a few people on base last year, so we just want to be aggressive on the bases and steal more this year, and we’ve really worked a lot on the bunting game so far – you’ve got to be able to bunt and move runners along.”
Bolender said his assistant coach, Wes Smith, has been tremendously helpful so far.
“He’s coached in our junior high programs for the last three or four years,” he said. “He’s actually been really good for me because he’s a detail kind of guy, and I’m a big picture kind of guy, so having him around has been a blessing.”
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.