Several newcomers joined the softball team’s varsity squad this year, forcing a new group of girls to cooperate quickly and make the season an unforgettable one.
Freshman Kami Smith, Madison Huff, Madelynn Lindhorst and Jasmine Kleiboeker had made the varsity squad.
“They will be a good addition to the team,” junior returner Alex Frazier said. “They will give us numbers, strength and speed.”
All four of these freshman also played summer ball, which prepared them for tryouts and eventually led to them earning playing time on the field.
Varsity head coach Kevin Hart thinks that all four players will receive playing time this season based on their ability thus far.
“They’ll definitely help the team. They all have good defensive skills, they all can hit good and they all have good speed,” Hart said.
Playing softball on a summer ball team was only to the players’ advantage, according to both Lindhorst and Huff. Summerball leagues for softball are local club teams that girls can participate in during the summer, as well as during the spring and fall seasons. Players like Lindhorst play on both the school team and a club team.
“I am on a club team, and it helps a lot,” Lindhorst said.
Huff added, however, that off-season practices were also key in performing at tryouts this year.
“I play both club volleyball and softball, and it helped out a lot,” Huff said. “I went to every workout and did a lot of conditioning before tryouts as well.”
Kleiboeker states that a variety of things helped prepare her.
“My older sister really helped me prepare for the season and to work my hardest. Playing tournament softball also really helps everyone on the team and helps all of us prepare big time,” Kleiboeker said. “Making varsity was an amazing feeling, I knew that I had to then step up my game and work hard.”
Other players such as Frazier and senior returner Taylor Carbone also made the varsity softball team their freshman year, but never before have four freshman made it on the team in the last four years, according to Carbone.
“I was a freshman on varsity too, so I know how they feel, and just as my team welcomed me, we are welcoming to them,” Carbone said. “This has been the most freshmen to make varisty in a long time, more than just the four years I’ve been here, and it’ll be interesting to see how the season goes.”
Hart comments on how pitching at this level is most important, and that the freshmen will have to adjust to that.
“High school will be a transition for them though, with the fast pitching because summer ball is not fastpitch. The name of the game in high school is pitching, and if a team has a good pitcher, then they will do well in the season,” Hart said.
Yet, the freshman are still excited to see where this year takes them.
“I’m really excited for our softball season right now. I hope to go to State just like we did for volleyball. I’m scared for next year when all the seniors leave because I really made a connection with them,” Huff said.
Smith and Kleiboeker also agree that the upperclassmen have been really supportive.
“Adjusting to high school softball was definitely a challenge for me, but luckily, all the upperclass men were very supportive to myself and the other freshmen that made the team,” Smith said.
Kleiboeker adds that she enjoys the older girls presence on the team.
“Adjusting to school ball was different, but it was pretty easy to get into the flow of things,” Kleiboeker said. “The whole team is great. The older girls are really inspiring, and great to be around.”
Carbone is excited for them, too.
“They’ve played the game for awhile now, and they all have that softball mindset. They are all able to fill that gap that the seniors last year have left,” Carbone said. “They’ll really help us because there are positions that need to be filled, and if a freshman fills that position, then great, they’ll do their best to help us win.”
Frazier also agrees that the freshman will perform well this year.
“We will do better with the freshman because they’ll give us real desire,” Frazier said.
Hart states that he is ready for the season along with the rest of his team, and the freshmen agree, saying that they will continue to work hard.
“Next year, I am expecting a huge growth in Gresham softball,” Smith said. “Hopefully that will lead to many more wins.”