Softball swings into action

Norv and Mary Coblentz · Wednesday, May 24, 2017
The 2017 West Liberty softball team is getting ready to compete. Their first game was May 22 against Alburnett (more on page 8).

"It's a very good Alburnett team," West Liberty Head Coach Dave Reynolds said. "We need to be ready. Numbers are down a little bit this year. We've got 20 kids signed up.

"I hope we can keep all those and maybe add a few during the season. It's always tough trying to field two teams with 20 kids.

"The kids I have right now are working hard."

The team has pitching and hitting but is perhaps not quite as deep as last season. "Pitching-wise this year, we're pretty solid," Reynolds said. We have Macy Akers and Emma Martin returning. They both throw pretty hard.

"Emma throws a lot of strikes, throws a great changeup, throws the ball around the strike zone, and doesn't walk people.

"Macy throws hard. When she's hitting her spots, she's very effective. She's a very good athlete, runs the bases well, hits the ball well. Was all-league last year."

The team has new pitching as well this season. Janie Gingerich is an eighth grader. "She throws pretty hard," Reynolds said. "It's all about hitting their spots with these new (pitchers).

"Haylee Lehman is a returning position player. She's probably going to pitch for us, too," Reynolds said. "Like Macy, she throws hard. Like Macy, she's going to have to play different positions. One of the might not be pitching like she'd like to.

"Isabel Morrison is also a pitcher. She's a good athlete and can play lots of different positions. She's going to need to. She's an eighth grader, throws pretty hard."

Some returning players include Brooklyn Harned. "She's going to get a lot more (playing) time than she did last year as long as she can put the ball in play and play defense," Reynolds said.

"Skylar Wendt started a lot of games last year. She's a power hitter and will be batting in the middle of the order somewhere. She'll probably play in the outfield, probably center or left, one of the speedier spots.

"Haddie Anderson is my lone senior. She's going to hopefully bel all-league second base again. She's a great leader to have on the team. She' has a good stick, can pound the ball. She's got a vacuum cleaner-type glove. She likes to get dirty. She's a great leader to have on the team.

"Brooklyn Harned is probably going to get some playing time this year. She does a good job, plays a lot of different positions. She's starting to strike the ball real well in the cage.

"Breana Thurness is another returning starter. She and Anderson are captains. She's a good, quiet leaders. Kids respect her and follow her lead.

"Brittney Harned is probably going to get some playing time this year. Does a good job, plays a lot of different positions. She's starting to strike the ball real well in the cage.

"Taylor VanDusen has another good stick.

"Austyn Crees is the sleeper on the team," Reynolds said. "She's a catcher. Didn't get a lot of mention last year because her batting average was not the greatest, but she's got a cannon of an arm.

"She's a really heady catcher. Good athlete, runs the bases well. She's tall, so it doesn't look like she runs the bases as fast as she does. Just a great player."

Most of the other players will play junior varsity.

The varsity squad is not deep but will work tirelessly. "We're going to put the ball in play," Reynolds said. "I told the kids if you can hit, you're going to play. I'll have to find a spot for you if you can hit because our batting order won't be as powerful as it was last year as far as pure power. These girls run hard. they work hard. That's the key to our success - working hard and getting better every day.

"I think we will score a lot of runs with our speed at least at the top of our lineup."

Last season, the Comets finished second in the River Valley Conference South division. This season, the conference is loaded with talent again. "I hope to battle," Reynolds said. "When you lose five senior like we did (from last year's team you have to dig deep). We played some tough teams during the season. It showed. By the end of the season, we were tired. When you only have 20 kids, with 60 games...I look to get better as the season goes on. If we start out a little slow, that's okay. We'll get better every practice, every game and put pressure on teams, have some fun.

"We're going to be right in it, this league's tough. Tipton, Wilton, Mid-Prairie tough. Regina, West Branch (will all be teams to battle)."
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