The Smyrna High softball team has gotten off to a good start with a record of 4-1. It may be early in the season but the team hopes to continue on the success of the program, which includes making it all the way to the state championship last year.
Delmar may have dealt the Eagles their first loss of the season as Smyrna lost 12-4 before spring break. But wins against good teams like Indian River and Woodbridge are a good sign for the team, said assistant coach Nicki Shirey.
“It says a lot of about our hitting. All three times we came from behind and took the lead,” Shirey said.
One of the key things the Eagles team needed to work on this spring was learning how to play together as a team. While most of last year’s team returned, there were a few new players.
“All the travel ball players coming together from different teams have come together and are playing well together,” Shirey said. “Some of them don’t play the same positions here as they did in travel ball. They’ve had to adjust and they seem to be doing well.”
It is the bonding the team has done that some of the players believe has aided in the team’s early success.
Senior outfielder Emily Carrow said the team plays really well together and if one player is down, the rest of the team will pick her up. Carrow was echoed by junior infielder Jennifer Gray.
“We’re really like a family,” Gray said. “We do good playing together as a team and in staying positive.”
Adjusting to changes
Not only has the team had to adjust in terms of new teammates and positions, some players are still adjusting in the change in distance from the pitching mound to home plate. Shirey said the pitcher’s mound was moved back three feet last year to 43 feet from home plate – the same distance as in college softball.
Last year pitchers had to adjust and now freshman pitcher Sydney Botsch (4-1) has had to adjust as well. For the hitters, the change has allowed them to be pickier at the plate.
“Now you’re seeing all these high scores. Look around, all the teams are scoring 5, 6, 7 runs,” Shirey said. “So it’s really who has the strongest defense and who can come up with the big hit in the end.”
Coming back from a loss
Shirey said following the team’s first loss of the season to Delmar, the girls and the coaches took it hard. However, the team had bad losses like this last year and still made it far.
“Sometimes you have these games. We had a bad game and Delmar was awesome,” Shirey said. “I’d rather have a game like this happen now then in the state tournament.”
As the season goes along, Shirey said the coaches will help the girls improve on things based on what happened in a previous game. Smyrna was hit pretty hard in the Delmar game. One of the main things Shirey said the team needs to work on is communication in terms of defense, making calls on the field in reference to cutoffs and where to throw the ball.
“You have to try not to sit on it too long,” Shirey said. “We hope they learn from the experience. It’ll make them better ball players in the end.”
Email Jennifer Dailey at firstname.lastname@example.org