Softball forced to adjust due to preseason injuries
By KEITH SPARKS
The Lady Panther softball team played their third and fourth scrimmages of the season over the weekend, facing Cedar Ridge on Thursday, Feb. 8, and Rouse on Friday, Feb. 9. First-year Head Coach Kristen Brewer admitted that her team doesn’t look as sharp as they should on the plate, but isn’t worried, considering how early in the season it is.
“Not too bad, but it’s still early,” Brewer said of their performance. “This weekend, we had Rouse. Rouse is down a little bit, but our bats were a little more alive. I still wish they were a little bit more, but it’s still early in the season, so if we can get our timing right later then I’ve got nothing to complain about. We’re just a little slower coming around with our bats than I’d like to be.”
On the other side of the ball, Brewer couldn’t be happier. Both the defense and pitching staff performed as well as she could have hoped.
“Defense, we’re doing well, and pitching, we’re doing well,” Brewer said. “That’s keeping us in there, but offensively, we need to get a little bit better. We struggled with that with Elgin and Cedar Ridge.”
Unfortunately, however, returning starter Kinsey Kuhlmann suffered what is likely a season-ending injury, meaning the coaching staff will have to work on moving girls around to find a new combination that works defensively.
“Right now, we’re switching positions a little bit, because the main thing is working through all our injuries. Kinsey Kuhlmann is more than likely out for the season, so having to come up with a replacement for that and already having to come up with a replacement shortstop and first baseman. If we do move Jessika Truax over to first base, potentially, then that’s leaving an open hole at third. Everywhere we move someone to compensate, it’s opening something brand new up.”
In addition to having to adjust to new positions because of injuries, Brewer said they’ll have to adjust to playing with some new faces, as well.
“We are young,” Brewer said. “Even though we played at a higher level last year, we had a lot of sophomores. Now we have a lot of juniors, but it’s a brand new team, brand new season. Whether it’s a new position or being next to somebody new, coming together as a team. Biggest thing right now is filling positions. Who’s going to work the best in what spots?”
Brewer reiterated her emphasis on plate performance with a reminder that the girls’ batting abilities will play a big part in whether or not they’ll see time on the defensive end.
“Our bats are going to be a big issue as far as who gets to play where,” Brewer said. “Like I always say, ‘If you hit, you fit.’”
The Lady Panthers will play their first regular season game at 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14, in Rockdale, followed by a tournament in Liberty Hill on Feb. 15, 16, and 17.