Six softball players gathered in a room in Shupe on Thursday afternoon right after practice. Two of the girls had missed practice because they were sick, and the others came just to check on them. Junior Mackenzie Orphanidis even went to the store to pick up food for her teammates. This is the type of bond the softball team has this year.
A lot has changed between this year and last, much of which has to do with the change of leadership. Former head coach Megan Hastings had a child and stepped down from coaching after last year. She moved to Iowa to be closer to her family.
The team is now being led by coach Scott Reese who seems to be well liked by the team.
“The new coach has brought in a lot of change from what we were used to in the past, but it’s been great,” said senior infielder Katie Rhoade. “He brings a lot of experience to the program and knows how to bring the best out of our team. His positive outlook and encouragement has been well received by the girls on the team.”
Freshman Kathryn Childers appreciates Coach Reese’s encouragement as well. “He believes in us,” Childers said. “He believes in the talents that we have.”
But ultimately, the team is still figuring out their new coach, as well as their new teammates. The team was small last year, and many girls have been lost along the way, so the team is relatively new.
“We’re kind of coming in all on the same page, except for one girl who followed coach Reese,” said Childers, “We don’t really know how he runs, so we’re kind of all on the same page.”
But as the team gets to know their new coach and new teammates, they seem to be getting more excited for the spring season.
“I’m really excited,” said Lewellen, “We’ve got a good group talent wise, and (we’re) connected.”
“I’m really excited (about) the way our team has already meshed together,” said freshman Bethany Hogg, “I know we’re going to have each other’s backs on the field, which is really awesome because a lot of teams don’t have that.”
While many of the girls excitedly predict a really good season, others try not to rush to conclusions.
“It’s too early to tell or predict how the season will go,” said Orphanidis. “I think we need to grow more as a team to know how the season will go in the spring.”
At the very least, the team hopes to improve their record from last year. The softball team finished their season last year with a 2-42 record, and while there are many individual goals among the girls on the team, many of them share this one.
But winning doesn’t seem to be the biggest thing the girls are concerned about. Team dynamic seems to rank at the top of the list.
“I’m excited because everyone tries,” said freshman Hailey Forbes. “I come from a team where nobody tried or put in effort.”
“I think with our positive attitude and community that we have going for us, that even if we aren’t succeeding as in score, I think that we’ll always succeed in playing hard and not giving up on the game,” said freshman Beth Hawley.