The Whiteoak High School softball team started slow last year after losing a key pitcher, but gained momentum as the season went along – and coach Trisha Schneider said she hopes that momentum carries over into this season.
“My hope this season is definitely that the girls come out and have confidence in themselves from the first game,” Schneider said. “I want them to do the best they can, and I want them to reach the potential they have.”
Schneider said losing Kiley Sosey, a school-record-setting pitcher who had at least 18 outs every single game in her senior year, was hard on the team.
“My girls struggled last year because that was our first year without Kiley,” she said, “so they were trying to figure out what they needed to do to field the ball every single game – they just weren’t used to having to field the ball so much. In the middle of the season, though, the girls kind of opened their eyes and realized, ‘Kiley’s gone and we have to do what we need to do to win games now.’ They started playing great, and they really improved… I hope that carries over into this year.”
Schneider said she hopes the team will improve their confidence and step up their small-ball and outfield game this season.
“I always tell my girls they need to improve their confidence, no matter how confident they are,” Schneider said. “Fundamentally, I’d like to see some of them learn a little more small ball, and also, in the outfield, we struggled last year, so I want to see some improvements as far as outfield goes.”
Five seniors return this season, two of whom have started all four years of high school, and one has started the last two years.
Schneider said Jaycie Parr can do a little bit of everything, but will mainly man third base. Lexie Jones will return as short stop, while Chelsea Chisman will return to first base. Junior Courtney Gross returns to the mound as starting pitcher.
Several returning outfielders show improvement, Schneider said.
Junior Megan Botts returns to center field after making some steps in the right direction, Schneider said, while sophomore Sydney Raines is a key newcomer in left field after not getting much playing time as a freshman.
“She came out and hustled and worked really hard to earn that position,” Schneider said.
Four freshmen enter this season, and will have to earn slots if they want playing time.
“If they earn it, they’ll get out there,” she said.
“I would definitely say the strengths are in the left side of the infield,” Schneider said. “I have some really strong and powerful girls that have played a long time, so I have a lot of girls who have been on some successful teams and know how to win… I think we’ll have a decent season, as long as the girls come out and play hard and do what they need to do. I’m excited to see what they can accomplish.”
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.