Softball players hope to fill gaps left by graduated seniors

Maya Erd, Staff Writer

Getting ready for a new season and coming off an 11-5 regular season record last season, girls’ varsity softball looks to the state title, keeping the team motto close their hearts, “Just believe.”

In order to prepare for the competitive season ahead, the girls started winter workouts every Sunday morning in early January and went through February all the way up to tryouts on Mar. 1. At these workouts, they focused on sharpening skills and getting out the rust from the offseason. “This was my first time meeting the team, and I really got to know them,” freshman Lizzie Nelson said. “And I improved a lot from these two hour sessions.”

The team is coached by Catholic University graduate Taylor Stockinger. She went to Sherwood where she played varsity softball all four years. She then graduated and moved on to play softball at Catholic and in 2011 was named First Team All-Landmark Conference and started in all 40 games that season.

This is Stockinger’s second year coaching high school softball. The team enjoys being coached by her. “She has helped by making us work hard and become better players,” senior Hannah Johnston said.

The Patriots lost their star pitcher, Meredith White upon her graduation last May. Going into the season they had no pitcher, but sophomore Moira Rankin stepped up and worked hard by going to pitching lessons at 6 a.m. on Sunday mornings as well as throughout the week. “I am really looking forward to be able to stand on the pitcher’s mound and be able to start every play and lead our team,” Rankin said.

With gaps left behind by graduates at second base and outfield, they are practicing hard on their infield and outfield so that they do not have any errors and can back up their pitcher, while staying strong as a whole.

This season will be challenging because the team has only 10 players, while nine are needed in the field. All five seniors have college visits and, injuries are inevitable. With just two players missing any given day, the team will not be able to field a team, meaning a possible forfeit. They can pull up players from JV if all works out that particular day.

The Patriots play 16 games this season, with their most competitive ones looking to be against Damascus, Gaithersburg and Clarksburg. “I’m looking forward to our game against Clarksburg because they beat us in the playoffs my freshman year and junior year and I really want to beat them,” Johnston said.

They originally had a scrimmage against BCC on Mar. 9, but it got cancelled. Their final scrimmage of the preseason was against Paint Branch on Mar. 13. The Patriots lost 11-7. However, Rankin averaged just two walks an inning and sophomore Jasmine Chee hit a homerun over the fences. This will get them ready for the season, as their first official game is on today against Damascus.

The game against Damascus should be a battle to the end, with both teams having a lot of talent. “The game should be neck and neck until the last inning, hopefully we can get the win,” Johnston said.