Marion High School softball head coach Chad Adkins has 16 players to work with, including six returning letter-winners, as the Lady Warriors open the 2012 campaign.
Adkins takes over the reins of the team from Jill Hudson, who is still there to provide continuity as assistant coach. He has plenty of youth to work with as he assembles the varsity squad, but the number of players creates competition not only for positions, but for playing time.
“We don’t have enough girls to play JV and varsity, so we’re going to have to get creative to get as much playing time as we can,” Adkins said. “For softball, where you need 18 girls to play two teams, and that’s running it pretty thin, we have 16 girls and we just can’t make it work.”
Varying class sizes, participation rates, and alternative options for extracurricular activities interact to create situations like this for team sports, Adkins said.
“It runs in cycles, depending on the numbers and who’s out for track and who’s out for softball,” Adkins said. “Our freshman class only has nine girls in it, and we have three of them, so we have a third of the class. Our junior and sophomore numbers are phenomenal.”
These factors have a different impact for softball than a sport like wrestling, which Adkins also coaches.
“If you only have two kids in wrestling, you can still have two state qualifiers. It just doesn’t work that way in softball. If you don’t have a certain number of girls out, you just can’t play the games,” Adkins said. “We’re not going to sacrifice varsity games to play junior varsity games.”
Six players who will definitely feature in whatever configuration Adkins puts on the field are returning letter-winners Jay Dee Schafers, Chelsea Voth, Montana Percel, Andrea Nordquist, Megan Richmond, and Annie Whitaker, the team’s only senior.
Whitaker was one of the team’s top hitters and run-producers last year, and will be called on for leadership again.
The fortunes of the Lady Warriors will rely heavily on the arm of pitcher Richmond, with Elizabeth Goentzel and Chelsea Voth available as backups, Adkins said.
“Megan is a lot stronger as a pitcher, she’s throwing harder, she’s got more pitches, so she’s going to be more effective. I think she’s going to make a major step forward,” Adkins said. “Most nights she’ll pitch two games.”
After two consecutive 6-win seasons, Adkins hopes a return to fundamentals will provide the boost the team needs to increase that total.
“We’re taking them way back to the basics and making them do all the little things right, and it’s going to make us better,” Adkins said. “We’re focusing on mechanics, and some situational stuff, defensive plays and some things about how we’re going to handle certain situations.”
Adkins said the team will rely primarily on skill and production at the plate, and not power.
“We’re going to hit for contact and try to group runs together, just moving runners and scoring runs one at a time,” Adkins said. “We’re not going to score 15 runs a game a lot of the time. We’re not going to have a lot of home runs. Hit for contact, that will be the goal,” Adkins said.
The Lady Warriors open the season March 27 on the road at Herington.