Thursday, May 4, 2017

Ladybirds Softball Hopes to Play Loose This Point Forward

Highlands May Surprise in Post-Season

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands seniors Kara Fornash (left) and Jenna Martin (10) listen to the umpires before a recent game. The two hope to help the Ladybirds finish strong.
Coming off success in the previous three years, a 6-13-1 record may not look good.

Highlands Ladybirds softball Head Coach Rob Coffey admitted opponents have been gearing up to give the Ladybirds their best shot as a result of the two 9th Region championships in three years. The mostly inexperienced team that returned just three starters from last year played tight as a result.

But knowing they are not expected to go back to Owensboro for the state tournament this year, Coffey hopes the Ladybirds play loose for the rest of the season into the post-season. Teams have scored double-digit runs against Highlands nine times this year. However, the Ladybirds put up better numbers offensively to win the shoot-outs in two of those games.

"We have the skill. We have the ability," Coffey said. "We have to clean a few things up and if we clean a few things up, we can play with anybody in the region. We still believe that. We really don't care what our record is. We know what games we were in and what games we threw away. We have nothing to lose from here on out and that's a perfect spot for us to be in. We are by no means giving up on this year. We are ready to make a run. I feel it in my gut that we are going to do something. We work too hard to not."

The biggest win of the year for the Ladybirds came in their lone shut-out by a 1-0 score against Newport Central Catholic at Winkler Field on April 12 when junior Brooke Dill singled in Addie Mack with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh and one out. NewCath just made it all the way to the semifinals of the All "A" State Tournament.

Despite the scores, Coffey and the players say things often get out of hand in just one inning. One mistake leads to many more mistakes.

"We talked about flushing everything and starting on the next play," Coffey said. "The first part of practice (Tuesday) was all verbal. We talked about the mistakes we've made in the last couple weeks. They're very correctable mistakes. We walked about a pinhole leak in your sink at home. It keeps growing and growing and growing. If nobody shuts it off, it explodes into a flood. That's what happening to us. Somebody has to step up, take control on the field and turn that faucet off."

Highlands has just two seniors on the team in Kara Fornash and Jenna Martin along with eight juniors including returning starters Josie Daley and Dill. The other returning starter is sophomore second-baseman Rachel Gabbard. Fornash started in the outfield two years ago.

"For me and Kara, this is our last year playing. I think we're starting to realize that more," Martin said. "For the juniors, they have this year and one more so we just want to go on a run, finish our season and just make it memorable."

The three seventh-grade starters in Anna Greenwell, Gracie Schlosser and Addie Mack may be receiving a lot of attention. Greenwell said the speed of the game has  not affected her. She's made a number of diving catches in center field. Schlosser has taken over as the starting pitcher and Mack has played several positions.

"It doesn't seem any different for me. We all play the same," Greenwell said. "I don't think age matters now. I try to pump everyone up every inning. The team is really improving. That's for sure. We just need to fix the scenarios we're messing up on."

But a number of others have also made plays. That includes juniors Ella Grimm, Elizabeth Mairose, Maleah Abner and freshman Taylar Lorenzen.

Highlands travels to Dayton on Thursday. Game time is 5 p.m.


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