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After finishing 7-4 in the Berks League last season, it was disappointing for the Exeter High School softball team not to make the playoffs. This year they would like to put that behind them and get to the playoffs.
But they will have to do it without a lot of talent that was on the team last year. The Lady Eagles lost nine seniors to graduation and they will have to rely on some players with little or no varsity experience. The question is, how quick will those younger players adapt to the varsity level of play?
“We lost nine seniors from last year’s team, but we have some younger players that got playing experience, and have large junior and freshman classes ready to fill some needed roles,” said Head Coach Rebeka Rice.
“We look forward to a competitive Berks and non-league schedule. We’re looking forward to playing perennial district contenders while building our program back up from the loss of a talented group of seniors.
Despite losing a lot of talent, the Eagles will still have some talented returnees. Leading the way will be senior outfielders Morgan Sandritter and Parker Fizz.
“Both have been solid all-around players for the past couple of seasons, and we’re looking to build around their experience this year,” said Coach Rice. “Both were All-Division picks last season and are looking to continue with their personal successes this year while helping our younger players mature.”
Also coming back is starting junior infielder Madison Pyott. She was the team’s Most Improved Player last year and will be counted on heavily to get even better.
“She will look to lead a young infield this year while continuing to grow as a player and leader,” said Rice.
For the most part, this will be a very young and very inexperienced team. That can be both good and bad. The younger players can bring an enthusiasm to a team that can only help. At the same time, you never know how quickly that same player will adapt to a varsity level of play.
“This team will be young and competitive, so we’re hoping that our youth will lead to a team that focuses on doing anything it takes to succeed,” said Rice. “We’re looking to have a tenacious, scrappy group of kids emerge as the leaders of our program for the next couple years, led by our three returning starters.
“Our inexperience at many key positions could be a downside if our younger players have trouble adjusting to varsity-level play. It also affects our depth at certain positions, since we lost our battery from last year and are looking to rebuild.”
Most coaches don’t like the word ‘rebuild’. There is not a lot of time for a high school team to rebuild, and it implies that the rebuilding season will be a losing one. Coach Rice doesn’t necessarily see it that way. She’ll have a lot of raw talent on this team and there will be a period of team growth to go through, but she still has a goal of making the playoffs this year, despite the unpredictability of inexperienced players. She expects this team to win.
“The attitude and work ethic of our younger players will be key to catching up to our returning starters,” said Rice. “We’ll need to build a cohesive unit quickly, and our eager young players will be up to that task. Many of our players are ready to fill whatever position is needed on any given day, so we need to find what works for us as a team and run with it.”