New assistant coach helps softball improve on consistency and skills

Kayla Volante ’17 warms up at practice on the John Witherspoon Middle School field on March 15.  Photo: Nathan Drezner

Kayla Volante ’17 warms up at practice on the John Witherspoon Middle School field on March 15.
Photo: Nathan Drezner

After moving from the Colonial Valley Conference to the Central Valley Conference, the PHS softball team is determined to work hard with a new coaching staff to improve on past seasons’ records. After last season, Dr. Andrea Dinan retired from the assistant coach position and social studies teacher Marissa Soprano, who has coached a travel softball team and has a pitching background in softball, joined the team to aid Head Coach David Boehm.

Coming in as the assistant coach, Soprano thinks that consistent practice will help players sharpen their skills. “We want to do a lot of conditioning and get the girls back into the swing of things,” Soprano said. She believes that learning the lessons of each game and correcting the team’s mistakes will help the team to advance steadily.

With only three seniors graduating after last season, the majority of the team remains relatively the same. This consistency in terms of players gives the girls an advantage, as they are familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They have moved on from last season’s rebuilding period during which they had to fill six spots from the class of 2013.

“[Having experienced a change in the lineup before], I don’t think it will be that hard to find replacements,” said Stephanie Wu ’16, who plays third base. “I think we will be better this year … We will have better teamwork and cohesion.”

Specifically, the girls want to have a better grip on the fundamentals of the sport that will have subtle but effective impacts when playing against stronger teams. “Last year, we had some amazing plays but there were some games that [had] so many errors we could have fixed in practice,” said Co-Captain and pitcher Sarah Eisenach ’15.

Eisenach thinks Soprano will make a change by directing the focus and objective of practice toward reinforcing techniques. “She’s going to work us really hard this year. We will work on little things in the game that can really make a difference,” Eisenach said.

Aside from strengthening the organization of the team, Boehm thinks a significant factor that will ensure success is promoting versatility among all players. “We [want to] really develop [the] players from last [season], hit better, and execute better,” Boehm said. “I think we can pick up more wins this year.” He looks forward to constructing a more well-rounded group and raising the competency of the team.

With these goals in mind, the team is also working on establishing tight bonds and solid dynamics. “We want to build a community where everyone can rely on everyone else and where we are open to help everyone out,” said Co-Captain Kelli Swedish ’16. Swedish, who plays outfield and shortstop, believes that in a positive practice environment, players will have more trust in each other and confidence in themselves, which help to influence the outcome of competitive games.

“Our team is still very young and very flexible. It’s a great group of girls that can respond to any changes and overcome any difficulty,” Swedish said.

By combining improvements in skills and group chemistry, the girls believe that they can achieve double-digit wins and take leads in the Mercer County Tournament and in state tournaments. “We want to motivate everyone to [give] 100 percent and take us to the top,” Swedish said.

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