Softball season bloomsPublished 11:59am Friday, March 21, 2014
COURTLAND—Two area private schools have already begun play, and the public schools are set to begin soon.
Southampton Academy is three games in and Isle of Wight has played two games. Windsor threw the first pitch for the public schools Thursday afternoon after deadline against Brunswick. Franklin will begin Tuesday, March 25, against Windsor, and Southampton will begin play on Thursday, April 3, also against Windsor. Tidewater Academy was not able to field a varsity softball team, but they will have a JV team.
The Raiders have started off the season 2-1, and the only loss was a close one, 3-2, against Brunswick that went 9 innings.
Head Coach Scott Speight said losing two seniors was tough, but added that he has high expectations going into the season.
“I’ve got a good outlook on the season,” he said. “We seem to have come together pretty good as a team, and the new players we have brought up are coming on pretty well.”
Leaders this year will be the two seniors, Morgan Pope and Katie Pittman, along with Allie Holt, Kara Beth Poole, Ashten Hinkle, August Ringer and Brooke Mizelle.
Mizelle, who has already pitched a no-hitter this season, will be important – she’s also batting .545.
“She is back and I think she is stronger,” Speight said. “Her bat has been on fire as well.”
Speight said that Ringer is taking over the catcher position, and he said she’s learned it faster than he expected.
“I’m letting her call the pitches,” he said of Ringer, who’s batting .417 on the season.
Hinkle is leading off, and has stolen 6 bases in 6 attempts. She’s batting .455 from the leadoff position.
Poole is off to a good start to her baseball career, said Speight. She’s batting .500.
The Raiders are scheduled to play at Greenbrier Christian.
Isle of Wight Academy
Coming off a 19-6 season, Chargers Head Coach Chris Hooper said though he lost a good core of seniors and his starting pitching, he’s got expectations with the younger group to post a similar resume.
“We’re a strong team, we just have a lot of unknowns,” he said. “We’ve got some positions we are going to have to figure out through playing, on who is going to play what role.”
Hooper said that sophomore Trish Webb and junior Bailey Key are likely to be his starting pitchers. The Chargers are made up of one senior, two juniors and the rest are sophomores, freshmen and younger.
“I think if we can mature on the field, that we will do as well as last year,” Hooper said.
In two games, Isle of Wight Academy is 1-1. They are coming off a 13-1 victory against Broadwater Academy.
Last year’s team went 13-5, won the district and the district tournament, but came up short in regionals. Head Coach Sean Wade said with the team only losing one starter, he’s expecting them to do more.
“We have five returning seniors, and we have a couple of new players that have made our team stronger,” he said. “We are the defending district champions, so our expectations are high.”
Key players are the returning pitcher of the year, Brook Sutphin, plus fellow seniors Morgan Burks, Lidia Willis, Abbie Jones and MaCayla Servais, all infielders. Wade also has high expectations for sophomore Morgan Whitley, who is the short stop.
“I expect growth from last years loss in the regions, and on and off the field maturity,” Wade said. “And for my seniors, leadership.”
Windsor next plays Bruton on Saturday.
The Broncos are looking to develop into a softball program, said Head Coach Angel Cashwell, who is coming off a winless season.
“Basically, we are trying to continue to develop softball skills, and also to win some games this year,” she said. “It is a rebuilding period. Last year was productive, though, we got a lot of experience for some girls who had never played fast-pitch softball before.”
Cashwell said the team has grown a lot.
“We’re better as far as being able to throw the ball, and our overall knowledge of softball has improved,” she said. “Our love for the game is continuing to grow.
“I’m looking forward to the season, as are the girls and the other coaches. I’m excited for the opening game next week.”
Last year’s 12-4 team should improve on that mark, and go further in the tournament, said Head Coach Susan Melbye.
“We have a very senior heavy class,” she said. “Some of them have been with me for four years. We have very high expectations.”
Melbye said the key to the season will be mixing seniors and freshmen, as along with the seven seniors on the team, there are four freshmen in key roles.
“Our seven seniors have been playing together since they were little,” she said. “We’ve got to get them and the freshmen on the same page.”
A key player will be Madison Cabell, a two-time district player of the year who has already signed up to play D1 baseball for St. Francis University. Kaylee Edwards, Talisha Jenkins, Haley Boykins and Ashley Haydu will also be key contributors as seniors.
“My seniors already know that we expect to win the district, and we expect a strong showing in our new conference,” Melbye said.
Southampton’s first scheduled game against Greensville was set for March 19, but it was rained out.