By Kenny Varner
BELLEFONTE – Year in and year out, the Bellefonte girls softball team seems to be in the mix for a District 6 title.
Last year, the Red Raiders went 20-3 overall and an impressive 11-2 in the Mountain League.
Despite losing some key players, chances are coach Travis Foster and company will be there once again after the dust settles on the regular season.
Lost to graduation from last year’s team are Addy Manning, Hannah Lauck, Lily Gardner, Makenna Port, Maddie Tice, Sara DeHaas and pitching standout Lexi Rogers.
There will be some standouts
Early in the practice sessions, Foster is pleased with what he’s been seeing with this year’s squad.
“It has been fun to be outside this early. We were stuck inside early the first week but after that we’ve been able to get outside. It’s been fun to see things all come together,” said Foster. “We are going to be super young this year. We bring back four letter winners on the varsity side. The rest of them are young kids. We have 29 players on the roster this year. Nineteen of them are freshman and sophomores. Only one senior. But it’s been fun.”
Tori Rickert will be the lone senior player.
She has been enjoying this season so far and is excited to get going and the possibilities of what’s to come.
“Things are going well so far. It’s a new environment to get used to after losing seven starters,” said Rickert. “So, it’s something to get used to
Despite that fact, the sky is the limit for this year’s team as the veteran coach is excited about the but it’s starting to click.”
With the graduation of Rogers, Foster will go with pitching by committee this season.
“We’ve been working currently with three pitchers right now,” said Foster. “Josselyn Nau is our returner from last year. She’s had a very good off season. She’s worked really hard. She had a really good spring so far. We have a sophomore Carly Clarkson who’s getting some work done as well. We also have freshman Alaina Smith.”
Foster will be looking for strong play by his returning players as well, especially in the leadership department.
“We bring back three everyday starters from last year’s squad,” Foster said. “Tori Rickert is our lone senior coming back. We have Hailey Remy in the outfield and Madison Melius is on the infield for us. Those three are ones that we’ll be counting on to lead us in the direction we want to go.”
Foster sees the team’s strength coming into the season comes from their softball skills.
“I think we are going to be very super athletic. We are going to play very fast,” Foster said. “I think defensively we are going to be good. The offense will come but I’m not too worried about it right now. I think the defense is going to rule. We are going to be a defensively sound as possible. I think we are to be pretty good at it soon.”
The team has been working hard on getting its younger players brought up to speed with the pace of a varsity contest.
“Anytime you have 18-19 freshman and sophomores it’s gelling, it’s coming together. It’s culture. How do we do things daily? How do we do things when we get to two stations? How do we execute at bunt situations? How do we react in infield/outfield breakdowns.”
The goals are simple ones for Bellefonte this year.
“We don’t talk about wins, we don’t talk about teams. Yes, we would love to win a district title but that’s not 100 percent in our control,” said Foster. “Our goals are to be the absolute best as we can every single day. Are we better today than we were yesterday, if that is true we hit our goal. If we can stack a bunch of those together then we are going to have the chance to have a lot of success.”
Looking on their schedule for the year, Foster sees their rivals to be the toughest team on their schedule.
“Until someone beats Bald Eagle, it runs through there,” said Foster. “Clearfield is going to be real good. Anytime you have Emma Hipps in the circle she can beat anyone in the state in my opinion. But Bald Eagle just wins every year. Outside of those two there are still a bunch of teams that can sneak up and come up and win this thing.”