2/19/2013 11:40:00 AM Lady Vikings prepare for upcoming softball season Williams High School girls softball team practices indoors while waiting for field to be ready, open season at Gila Bend Tournament Feb. 28-March 2
The Williams Lady Vikings participate in throwing and catching drills Feb. 12 to help prepare them for the upcoming softball season. David Yankus/WGCN
Two Lady Vikes practice hand-eye coordination in a hitting drill during softball practice Feb. 12. David Yankus/WGCN
WILLIAMS, Ariz. - As the snow slowly starts to melt, we're reminded that spring will eventually come. It has to. And when the new season arrives, it always brings spring sports with it.
Practices began two weeks ago for the Williams High School (WHS) Lady Vikings softball team and the girls are steadily preparing to head into the upcoming season ready as ever.
The Lady Vikings lost only two seniors from last year's squad and return almost the entire core of players that led them to state last season. This year's softball team includes three seniors; pitcher Jordan Pettit, outfielder and third baseman Cheyenne Lienhard, and pitcher and position player Lisa Rodriguez.
Head softball coach Edgar Brown said returning a team that only lost two players means that most of his younger players were able to log some very good experience last year. The girls bring that experience and leadership with them into this season.
"I got all my pitchers back, and most of my lineup," said Brown. "I expect big things from Jordan, Lisa, [sophomore] Bre Fowler, and [junior] April Zicopoulos. Those four were here last year and hopefully we can just excel from that."
Brown hopes his team can improve from last year's finish and not just be satisfied with making the state tournament, but hopefully winning some games and advancing to the second round or even further.
Helping Brown this year are assistant coaches Eric Savage, Olivia Timothy, and pitching coach Kelsey McDonogh. Timothy and McDonogh are NAU students volunteer assisting. Savage also coaches the WHS junior varsity softball team.
"With those three coaches and myself, we're hoping to go a long way and get these girls in shape," Brown said. "We'll be working on offense and doing the right things on defense. Teach them the defensive side of the game and make sure they understand that whether or not they're doing it right, to at least be moving on the field."
Brown explained that last year he noticed too much standing around or wandering when the players should have been moving into position.
"That's a big part of baseball and softball, is being in the right place because that's where a lot of your runs get in because somebody's not in the right place and the ball keeps rolling," said Brown. "But if we're able to get that defense down and at least move into the right spots, I think we'll stop a lot of runs."
Brown said last season the Lady Vikings had a lot of opportunities to close games out where they were ahead but sometimes the players weren't in the right spots defensively, which cost them some leads and even some games.
The head coach added that already early in the season he feels his girls have good energy and that everyone is excited to start the season, especially him.
Brown said with the amount of juniors and seniors on this year's team, and all the playing time they have logged the last couple seasons, the Lady Vikings' strength is their veterans and leadership.
"My philosophy is this, I told the girls if you think you're better than somebody, it's your job to get her up to where you're at, or even better," said Brown. "So hopefully we don't have any weaknesses in that aspect, and we can all work together as a team."
Brown added that he and his coaching staff are also always working on building the players' confidence. He said a big weakness for most teams or athletes is doubt, and that the worst thing to do is to second-guess yourself.
"We all make mistakes, but by letting each other know it's okay and we're going to work through this we continuously grow as a team and build confidence," Brown said. "The girls are buying into this now, this 'don't put your head down, shake it off and move on' type of mentality. I need to make sure these girls are ready for anything. [For example], if a pitcher strikes you out look them dead in the eye and say to yourself, 'I'll be back.' That's the way you do it, don't put your head down and get mad or upset."
Lienhard returns for her senior year and looks to finish her WHS softball career strong. She suffered a torn meniscus in her knee last season, but appears to be fully recovered.
The Lady Vikes open the season at the Gila Bend Tournament Feb. 28-March 2. Their first regular season game is at Sedona on March 5 at 3 p.m. The Lady Vikings' home opener is March 13 at 2 p.m. against the Northland Preparatory Academy Lady Spartans from Flagstaff.