Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 30, 2013

Charger softball returns core despite youth

Nick Gonnella
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — The North Decatur softball program has experienced an influx of new faces over the past two years.

Out of 19 players listed on last season’s roster, nine girls were freshmen. Six of those nine return this season.

Joining this year’s team are 12 more freshmen, for a two-year total of 21.

“We’re going to be very young,” said head coach Sam Field. “A lot of them have played ball. The freshman class will be real key in making a difference for us.”

Despite the large number of first-year players, North returns its core letter winners from a season ago. Six of the eight position players return to the diamond, in addition to the full-time pitcher.

North lost to graduation left fielder Taylor Chance, who provided leadership along with a skilled glove and bat.

Field will have a combined six juniors and seniors at his disposal, along with two sophomore position players.

“Things are working out for us,” he said. “It’s nice having this many kids out. Every single one has really shown improvement from the first day.”

Seniors Kyra Spears and Lindsay Nobbe return with the most experience, and Janice Geis is a senior with a good glove and arm.

Spears will patrol right field, while Nobbe will return to her previous position at second base after playing catcher as a junior.

“Kyra and Lindsay are going to be great leaders for us,” said Field. “(Lindsay) will do anything and everything we ask of her. She graciously gave up playing second base and volunteered to catch for us last year. Kyra has taken the outfield under her wing. They’re going to do a nice job as seniors on the team.”

Junior pitcher Myra Steele enters her third year on the mound, but this season marks the first time she will have depth behind her.

“We will have two legitimate pitchers,” said Field. Freshman Kiley Stier will back up Steele, while freshman Morgan Nobbe will pitch on the junior varsity level.

Staffing the corners will be juniors Anna Wallpe (first base) and Alison Wallpe (third base). The veterans give Field stability on defense and a dangerous pair of bats.

Sophomore Angel Serles returns to shortstop, while Kiley Stier will back her up.

Freshman Mary Hughes will be North’s regular catcher.

Taking center field for a second year is sophomore Anna Schwering, who is designated as the outfield leader.

“She has nice wheels and a good glove,” said Field. “She kind of is the leader out there. She can cover a lot of ground. She’ll do an excellent job out there. Her bat has looked really good in practice.”

The team will feature versatility and speed, two qualities Field said this team possesses more than previous teams.

“We have team speed that we haven’t had in a long time,” he noted.

Several freshmen will be called on to pinch and courtesy run, including freshmen Morgan Nobbe and Morgan McKinney, as well as Madeline Ryle an Blair Kramer off the JV squad. This will give Steele the luxury of staying fresh between innings.

The coaches have placed heavy priority on fundamentals and proper mechanics, especially footwork.

“That’s one of the things we have really worked on this year,” said Field. “Footwork, footwork, footwork, footwork in the outfield and infield. They’re doing pretty good with it. I like what I’ve seen in practice. They’re trying and they have good effort.”

Winning a sectional tournament is the Lady Chargers’ foremost goal.

“Talk is cheap,” said Field. “You can’t do it with your mouth. They’re taking it to heart. We’re ready to go outside and work.”

Field expects Switzerland County to send a talented freshman to the mound and a good freshman class. He called Milan and South Ripley tough squads, while Austin and Southwestern Hanover will be decent contenders.

North should be tested out of the gate, playing nine of its first 12 games on the road. North opens the season Tuesday at Union County and visits Cambridge City Friday, before a double-header at Hauser Saturday. The Chargers’ first home game is Tuesday, April 9 against Rushville.

Assisting Field will be junior varsity coach Phil Nobbe, while Jeff Steele returns to coach the pitching. David Espinosa, who has played baseball, will assist on a volunteer basis.

“That’s really helped in practice,” said Field of the ability to divide the team into specialized groups. “It gives us more stations for more repetitions.”

The team looks forward to starting the season after what Field called productive two-a-day practices.

“We’ve done pretty well with getting practices in,” he said, touting good attendance numbers. “We really think we can have a good season. I’m excited with what we’ve got coming in. It’s going to be fun to watch these kids.”

Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.