A season after going 2-19 and 0-10 in league play, the Lady Wildcats softball team comes into the 2013 season with sense of new hope.
2012 was last spring, this is 2013, and in steps new head coach for El Dorado Tina Nickel.
“This program has not seen big success for several years. It's my hope to give them a desire to not only win more than last year but get prepared for the future successes in years to come,” said Nickel.
This year’s Wildcats team has a ton of potential. El Dorado returns several girls who have great arms and great bat speed.
“Our expectations are to win more than last year and to compete with all of our opponents. Our coaching staff will push them to learn more strategies and more ways to score using our speed,” said Nickel.
With seven upper classmen returning with varsity experience El Dorado returns four seniors in Lauryn Brickley, McLaren Stewart, Alivia Dutcher and Andrea Valadez, all of whom are playing major roles for the Wildcats and have great leadership qualities.
“They work extremely hard at practice learning better ways to execute the game and becoming better players in positions they haven't played in awhile,” said Nickel.
With Dani McFadden out indefinetly for El Dorado after an apendectomy, the Wildcats have begun preparation to play without her and it has been an adjustment for the team.
El Dorado’s returning juniors, are Heather Riddle, Logan Morrow and Megan Riffel.
“Each are all versatile in several positions and have great abilities. They will make huge strides this year as upperclassmen and leaders,” said Nickel.
With a new crop of incoming freshmen, El Dorado may look to some of their newcomers to make immediate contributions.
“We have several newcomers who will make an immediate impact on the team. Destiny Bowlin and Morgan Owens are great athletes and have tremendous potential to not only help us improve as a team but be impact players for us,” said Nickel.
Bowlin will be looked to to pitch for El Dorado opposite of Logan Morrow.
“Destiny has really shown she is a team player and her work ethic is going to be where she will make strides this season. She will be also bring with her a great stick as she has shown in practice,” said Nickel.
Owens has amazing speed on the bases and will help the Lady Wildcats in the outfield.
“Morgan is an up and coming star in the game of softball,” said Nickel.
Page 2 of 2 - With an influx of solid youth and a stable core of upper classmen there are still areas of concern for this team which is only a year removed from a 2-19 record.
“Our bats have to stay consistent. If we can be strong up and down the line up with getting people on and moving them, I will be very pleased. Also we need everyone with experience to stay healthy to help the team get to where we want to be,” said Nickel.
Building a successful program starts not with the varsity but with the JV and freshmen teams.
“Our JV program will be crucial to the future of the program. We are working hard in teaching them the game. It's time for our program to be looked at as one to be a part of and in bringing success and pride back to EHS softball,”
The Wildcats JV has been successful in the past and has been able to compete.
“We have had success in past years and Jane Squires, my assistant, was the head coach of that success. She is excited about this year and in bringing me over to EHS and she knows I am 100 percent ready to lead us in the next three years to a title,” said Nickel.
For a first year coach of a new team, a time for adjustment could and and should be expected from the players.
The Lady Wildcats have seemed to taken grasp of Nickel’s style already.
“I am very proud of how these young ladies have accepted my coaching style and have done what I have asked of them this year,” said Nickel.
The Lady Wildcats open play at Collegiate on March 25 and their first home games will be April 1 against Circle.