Young talent holds promise at RCS
By John Bernhardt
After 25 years, you might think another softball season would be old hat for Roxbury coach Jane Ware. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ware is brimming with enthusiasm and encouraged with the promise of her young 2008 Rockets‚Äô squad.
‚ÄúThis season is so promising and so much fun,‚Äù chuckled Ware. A pack of up-and-coming talent has Ware looking with optimism at Roxbury‚Äôs softball future. Teaming with Andes, Ware fielded a summer league team in a 14-year-old and under league last year. The endeavor paid dividends this spring, with Roxbury‚Äôs varsity and modified squads brimming with youthful ability.
Sensing a softball Renaissance, Ware has put together a 17-game schedule to allow her team multiple opportunities to grow and improve. ‚ÄúWe had a rough season last year. Our team was plagued with internal issues that hurt,‚Äù noted Ware. ‚ÄúThis spring we‚Äôre working hard on leadership, on attitude, on coming together as a group with a common purpose,‚Äù continued the Roxbury coach.
According to the Roxbury coach, her team has set their sights on playing .500 ball and making the Section IV playoffs. If the pitching evolves and the kids come together and work as a team, Ware thinks that‚Äôs a realistic goal.
Sophomore Heather Davie returns to the mound for the Rockets. A gifted athlete, Davie has the physical tools to be an accomplished pitcher. As a freshman, Davie struck out 109 opponents last spring and will only get stronger. Ware is pleased to have two former Rockets‚Äô pitching legends Evette and Tamara Snyder giving Davie some pointers during the preseason.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre spending time helping Heather develop the mental side of the pitching equation,‚Äù explained Ware. ‚ÄúHer practice plan includes daily work on a consistent wrist snap and nailing down that go-to pitch you can count on when things start to go sour.‚Äù
Another sophomore, Rachel Meckes will complete the Rockets‚Äô battery behind the plate. ‚ÄúRachel is incredibly fast,‚Äù praised Ware. ‚ÄúShe played summer ball and has a lot of games under her belt.‚Äù Ware knows this will be a learning season for Meckes, but the Roxbury mentor is impressed with Meckes‚Äô attitude and quick learning curve.
Ware is impressed with her team‚Äôs balance and depth. The veteran coach expects competition at several positions and expressed confidence in going deep down her bench. Several junior infielders return from last season‚Äôs team. Danyelle Greene is back at first base. The defensive leader of the infield, Greene is working hard to improve her batting skills this spring.
Jessica Utsler is slated to spend some time at shortstop. A strong athlete, Utsler hits the ball hard and has good range in the infield. Karly Bolger is back to handle the chores at second base. A speedy base runner, Bolger should help set the table toward the top of the Rockets‚Äô batting order. An excellent bunter, Bolger runs the bases well.
Marlise Cammer handled the duties around the hot corner at third last season. A newcomer to softball last season, Cammer is still playing catch-up with some infield skills but earns praise from her coach for her hard work and strong desire.
A talented sophomore Brianne George will be pushing to break the starting lineup somewhere in the infield. ‚ÄúBrianne has very quick hands and a strong arm,‚Äù extolled Ware. ‚ÄúBrianne has a great bat and is a real competitor. She has great base running technique.‚Äù
Another sophomore, Alexis Peters, has caught Ware‚Äôs eyes working around first base this spring. ‚ÄúAlexis has a good stick and is a very promising talent,‚Äù shared Ware. ‚ÄúShe‚Äôs working hard on her defense and has a decent glove. With some maturity, Alexis will be making some noise in the infield.‚Äù
Four seniors will be patrolling the real estate in the Rockets‚Äô outfield this spring. Jessica Martin, a second-team Delaware League all-star last year, is back for her fourth season as a starter. ‚ÄúJessica gives us a strong lefty bat in the line-up,‚Äù explained Ware. ‚ÄúYou can depend on Jessica to give you solid, consistent performance every game.‚Äù
In only her second season, Morgan Romann should start in center field. Romann learned a lot in her novice season, and Ware is looking for improved outfield play in 2008. Riley Cammer, the team‚Äôs back-up pitcher, returns in the outfield. Ware is impressed with Cammer‚Äôs all- around play.
Trying varsity softball for the first time, Kelly Snyder is looking to help out the Rockets wherever she‚Äôs needed.
Freshman Paulina Cowan rounds out the Roxbury roster. With blazing speed, Cowan bunts and runs the bases well. Cowan is working hard to develop her infield and throwing skills.
Ware is excited about her team‚Äôs speed. ‚ÄúWe have five or more girls who can really get down the line. ‚ÄúWe plan on turning them loose on the base paths.‚Äù
The Roxbury coach expects a wide open Delaware County League field this spring but notes that Margaretville, Jefferson, and Hunter-Tannersville should be vying to lead the pack. Roxbury opens their season tomorrow in a nonleague game at Margaretville.