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Familiarity is a word not familiar with a lot of high school softball teams from season to season as rosters change.
The Hall softball team hopes the nucleus of seniors Becca Herrmann, Brenna Faletti and Deidra Whightsil can install to the younger players the routine they’ve become accustomed to over their first three years on varsity.
“We’ve gotten used to each other and we mesh together well,” said Herrmann, who returns as the catcher and could see time at third base. “The infield is all of us, so we will have good communication.
“Coach K (Pete Kasperski) is always telling us to think about what you’re going to do before the pitch happens and to talk, ‘I’ll be here before the pitch happens’ or ‘I’ll be here covering this base.’ I think we do a lot of repetition in practice and that really helps us out for the games. We do a lot of game-like situations, so we know where everyone is going to be.”
Faletti returns at shortstop and Whightsil will remain in center field, where last season she earned a spot on the NewsTribune All-Area Second Team with her .476 batting average, team-leading 13 runs, six doubles and 10 RBI.
Hall only has three seniors, but the squad that finished 5-13 last season is looking for a couple of juniors to continue to contribute like they did last season to help the Lady Red Devils with the new teams they’ve never played before such as Rockridge, Orion and Sherrard in the Three Rivers Conference South Division.
Ellen Herrmann is moving from third base to second base and Abbey Azarskis will remain at first base.
These players will be the heart of the batting order as well as Whightsil will hit leadoff, Faletti second, Becca Herrmann third, Ellen Hermann will fill the cleanup spot, junior Kylie Whightsil will hit fifth, pitch and play right field and Azarskis will hit sixth.
“What we need to do to improve our record is we need to be able to field the ball and put the ball in play more than we have,” said Kasperski, who is heading into his ninth season at the helm. “Our pitching has been fairly good since I’ve been here. It’s just we can’t give teams extra outs, and we got to get on base.
“When I first started, I probably only had 25 or 30 percent of the girls play (travel) softball and now I’m at 90 percent. It makes a great difference. They understand what it’s about where before you had to teach them about the game. Now, most of the girls know to tag up and what to do if a line drive is hit to them. Hopefully, it’ll make a difference.”
Junior Adriana Hawton will play left field and sophomore Heidi Nielsen will be at third base when she is not pitching.
The Lady Red Devils lost three seniors from last year’s squad, including Ally Carlson, Becca Dagraedt and ace pitcher Stephanie Stocking.
Behind Stocking was Kylie Whightsil, who started in the circle whenever Stocking wasn’t. She returns and will be placed in a three-pitcher committee with two sophomore pitchers — Adrianna Pikula and Nielsen. Both of the sophomore pitchers saw a little varsity action last season.
“I took pitching lessons during the summer,” said Pikula. “I think they helped me out a lot and made me faster and more accurate than last year. Now, I throw different pitches from last year, like the riseball and I’m working on the change-up.”
Pikula is the opening day starter — which might not happen until Monday’s game at Sherrard — because of weather, and looks for her newly-acquired riseball to be her money pitch.
Freshman Rena Barroso will be brought up from the freshman team when it doesn’t play to help out on the circle.
Kasperski said he wants Barroso to get all the experience she can as the main pitcher for the freshman-sophomore team, but she has the talent to play varsity. He added Barroso, Pikula and Nielsen are the future for Hall pitching.
“We have 30 or so games, so we’re going to need all the pitching we can get,” Kasperski said. “What I plan on doing this year — I talked to the guys who are helping me — I’m going to warm up all three of them before the game. This way, if we have trouble they’ll be warmed up and I can bring them in. We might start with one and finish with a different one.”
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.
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