Freshmen core builds toward future success
One year after going 28-27, the softball team is back on the field for another season. With conference play right around the corner, the Cougars are working with a 12-13 record.
With four returning seniors, the Cougars possess a good sense of on-field leadership. Senior outfielder Katie St. Pierre and senior pitcher Julana Shrum lead the team as the transition to a more youthful team occurs.
The team is full of freshmen and sophomore players who are learning on the fly but improving as the games go by.
“We have a lot of newcomers, a lot of young kids,” head coach Kyla Holas said. “We have more freshmen starting right now than we have returners. We are just trying to get them better every single day and every single week.”
Holas knows this season will be a learning year for many of her players, she said she is positive about the future to come. This is a good thing for the Cougars as these young players will have the opportunity to build together. When sports teams come together and play well, fans have a tendency to overlook the build-up years that came before the success.
“Our strength is our youth,” Holas said. “They’re young, and they’re exciting. They play hard, they’re learning every time so they are getting better. We’re playing better softball, so that’s what’s really exciting to see, you know, the future – whenever you can have that vision for it.”
But Holas isn’t oblivious to the weaknesses of her squad. Along with a youthful team comes a large learning curve and plenty of mistakes. Holas is utilizing the early non-conference games to find the mistakes and nip them in the bud while her players are still fresh and advancing.
“Some of the things that we still need to do a little bit better is freshman pitching. We’re missing some pitches and some of our timely hitting,” Holas said. “Some of that pressure of being able to take what we do in practice and put it into game is something that as a freshman they sometimes kind of waver in a little bit, and we’d like them to be a little bit tougher, and that’s what we are really focusing on.”
So far, some of the biggest impacts have come from the first-year players. Freshman outfielder Elise LeBeouf is the Cougars’ RBI leader with 18 on the season. She is also second in home runs with four.
The leader in hits is freshmen outfielder Maya Thomas with 29. She also leads the team with three triples and holds a .439 batting average. Freshman catcher Brooke Vannoy is tied for first in doubles and is batting over a .300 average.
“You have to look for Brooke Vannoy for us,” Holas said. “She’s a starting shortstop for us, she’s a freshman, she’s such a great kid – presence on the field especially. Elise LeBeouf, she’s another one, she’s in our three hole right now, she has our most RBI, (and she is) another freshman starting right field for us. Those are two kids that are in the lineup every single day, and they are standing out as freshmen.”
No matter what the Cougars’ record is at the end of the season, the coaches and the team will view the 2016 season as a positive year for the softball team.