Warriors softball team on the rise

Sports reporter

It terms of victories, last season may not have been what then first-year head softball coach Sandy Black wanted.

But she did lead Marion High School to its first and only regional victory since joining the Mid-Central Activities Association in 2004 with a victory against Hesston.

A second-round loss to Hillsboro ended the season, but momentum for the 2008 season had already began.

Now Black is in her second year and starting to feel more comfortable.

"I'm more confident this year," she said. "The first year is always a little nerve-wracking."

It might have something to do with the fact there are 20 members on the team, allowing for full varsity and junior varsity squads.

Some girls may play both at times, but for the most part the core of each team will remain the same.

When Black fields her varsity squad it will be mixed with three freshmen and six upperclassmen.

"We have a well-experienced team, and they all played ball before," the coach said.

She was mainly referring to the freshmen who will see playing time, having all played during the summer before coming to high school.

One of them will be Alex Cain, who Black said will usually start the first game of each double header.

Senior Kristin Waner will more than likely pitch the second game, and Black said freshman Raelene Allen can pitch some as well.

The third freshman, Jordan Harper, will play in the outfield.

"We got some good young girls," Black said.

She also is happy with the large senior class that will include six girls.

Along with Waner, Tacy Taylor, Lanna Carroll, Lauren Helmer, Megan Schmidt, and Austin Percell will bring their experience to the lineup.

Everyone from freshmen to seniors will have to adjust a little bit to two major changes on the playing field from past years.

Instead of playing on the usual B-field at home, the team will play on C-field because of renovations.

C-field is used primarily as a summer baseball and softball field.

Black said it will take some adjusting to, but they will move on.

"They are making improvements," she said of B-field. "Hopefully it will be ready next year."

What will be ready for this season is a temporary fence that will be anywhere from 185 to 225 feet from home plate.

Currently the fence is 295 feet from home plate.

It will help the outfielders not have to play as deep, and the offense could benefit as well.

"I think we have some girls that could hit a home run now," Black said with a smile.