The Avon Lake softball team has taken its share of bumps this season, posting a 10-14 overall record, including 4-9 in the Southwestern Conference. That will happen when your roster boasts more freshmen (four) than seniors (three), and is searching for its team identity.
Despite the Shoregals’ struggles, head coach Kevin Atkins said he respects the fearless attitude his players show when it comes to competing.
“They are true competitors,” he said. “Even when it seems as though they are down, they continue to compete. That says a lot about their character, considering the age difference we have on our roster.”
The Shoregals are coming off a recent SWC win, beating Berea 6-0 Monday, with Alexis Thomas picking up the win on the mound. Kaity Mullen hit a home run for the Shoregals, finishing with two hits. Rachel Maxwell and Allison Theberge also had two hits apiece. Lauren Kuzniar hit a double for Avon Lake.
Thomas, a freshman, is putting up some impressive numbers this season, both on the mound and at the plate. Carrying a 3.42 ERA, Thomas leads the team in striking out opponents (37). At the plate, she is hitting .335 and leads the team in doubles (15), home runs (2), runs (53) and walks (40). Another freshman, Annie Wennerberg, is showing promise on offense and defense, racking up a 2-0 record on the mound with a 1.91 ERA and 19 strikeouts. Wennerberg has two doubles, two triples, 18 runs and seven walks at the plate.
Leading the team in batting average is sophomore Caitlin Shelar (.346). She also has eight doubles, one triple, one home run, 32 runs and 14 walks. Senior Mullen has four doubles, 15 runs, and six walks. She also has a .323 ERA on the mound.
The Shoregals will get a chance to show their fierce competitive spirit when they host Admiral King for the opening round of the sectionals at 4:30 p.m. today. The Lady Admiral improved to 8-12 overall after defeating Warrensville Heights 13-1 Friday.
“I expect it to be a hard-fought game,” Atkins said. “Pam Jackson, who is their coach, does a very good job year in and year out. I expect the same effort from her team this year. I think we will need to play very sound softball in every game of the playoffs. If we do that we will put ourselves in a position to succeed. If we have mistakes, that’s where we will get into trouble.”
Atkins said his team must focus on each game at hand once the postseason starts if it wants to succeed.
“When it comes to our playoff goals, we have to take each game as it comes,” he said. “We can’t look past anyone. In softball, any team can beat anyone. Just look at our conference on how everyone is beating each other. That competition should help us.”
Despite the pressure the postseason atmosphere can bring, Atkins said he wants to see his players enjoy the experience.
“I want the girls to have fun,” Atkins said. “Our seniors have been in playoff games before, but for our young girls this will be a much different environment then they have been in before. My hope is that we can get hot at the right time and see what happens.
“I have seen this team play all areas of the game very well, such as fielding, hitting, base running, pitching, etc., but it has been at different times. I am confident that we can put it all together in the tournament.”