Last Updated: Apr 27th, 2015 - 11:04:56

Hopewell Softball Aims To Improve
By Blake Belden, staff writer
Mar 21, 2014, 09:54

Blake Belden/Hopewell News/ News Patriot
HOPEWELL As the Hopewell varsity softball squad practices through bad weather and postponed games in preparation for the spring season to begin, they sweat with a defensive mentality at the forefront of their minds.

"Right now, we're really working pitchers and catchers hard," said head coach Megan Holder, who has been coaching the Blue Devils for a decade.

With a roster mixed of a number of returning players and a batch of new athletes, the preseason has been a time for understanding how to mesh the experienced leaders with the new girls.

"It's been a push. They're learning quick, though. Luckily, a lot of girls that are returning are at positions that we needed them to be at," Holder said.

The infield will be split primarily between returning players on the left side and the newer players filling up the right side.

When Holder thinks of the players she needs to help run the team, she looks to players like Taryn Hunter, a junior shortstop, and Kefira Jones, a senior third baseman, among others, who have stepped up and shown leadership by taking charge during practice.

"They're really working hard and they encourage the other girls to do their best. They get on them too when they need to, but in a good way," Holder said.

Last season, the Blue Devils struggled with a thinning roster after starting with a much fuller roster, and although they didn't finish with the greatest season, Holder holds on to the sense of adaptability as one of her team's strengths.

"When you look at what we started with and how we finished, it showed a lot for them, it showed a lot of promise for this season...[The girls] were able to make the adjustments we needed," Holder said.

In addition to this unselfishness, Holder said they also need to retain the communication skills that they demonstrated adeptly last year.

As far as improvements go, Holder wants to see the team exert consistent tenacity and energy this season from the first inning all the way through the seventh inning, compared to last year when she would notice that they would sometimes get discouraged when down by a few runs and play with less energy and commitment.

"I want to see them go from start to finish, one hundred percent the whole way through. The ones that have returned this year have said 'coach, we're going to do it,'" Holder said.

Holder prepares to enter her first coaching season with the new conference realignment, and expects it to be different at first, but more beneficial in the long run.

"We'll be playing with teams that are about the same as we are. We're not going to be able to pull as many girls" as other schools in the area like Thomas Dale, Holder said.

Under the new alignment, Hopewell will play certain teams they have already played before like Petersburg, Armstrong and Huguenot, but will face new competition against teams such as George Wythe and Thomas Jefferson.

The team has already missed multiple games because of inclement weather, getting rained out on Monday and postponed on Thursday because the field was still unplayable. As of Thursday evening, their season opener was scheduled for Friday at home against Armstrong, with a rescheduled match against Highland Springs next Thursday.

Despite the weather having affected the team's game schedule, Holder said they have only missed one practice because of mother nature, doing alternative workouts in the gym when necessary to be prepared as the season begins.

"If we're not [prepared], I would be surprised," Holder said with a laugh, an expression that shows there has not been a lack of hard work from her players in the preseason.

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