By Spencer Schultz and Scottie O'Bryan
In the wake of losing three starting seniors, the Jamesville-DeWitt High School Varsity Softball team didn't know what to expect in the 2015 season. "We lost our shortstop, pitcher, and catcher, the three main positions in the game. It is hard to be successful when you don't have those players but our team has handled it pretty well," says senior first baseman Alyssa Robens. The team has started out the season with a hard earned 13-7 record as of May 18.
After the weather forced them inside for the beginning weeks of the season, the team started out slow with a 6-11 loss to West Genesee on April 6. “Prior to that game, we hadn't been outside, so it was a bit hard adapting from that to the gym where we had been practicing," says sophomore pitcher Makenzie Keeler.
Though the Lady Rams have lost seven games this season, each has been to tough competition. “Every one of our losses but one was to a AA school,” says sophomore Makenzie Keeler. J-DHS Softball is a Class A program. “Those schools are bigger (than J-DHS), so they have more talent all around,” says Keeler.
With the recent holes left on the diamond, the team has had to overcome many challenges. “We have seven players in new positions so we have had to grow into our roles,” says Head Coach Phil DeAugustine. Robens agrees, saying players are currently trying to get used to those new positions. The team also feels that offensively, the girls are very “on and off,” according to freshman Amanda Sumida. “We have struggled hitting a lot. We tend to pop out and hit at bad pitches,” says Sumida.
Many players feel that the team’s defense wins their games. “We don’t make many errors out on the field which helps our pitchers out tremendously,” says Sumida.
When their hitting is on, their offense carries the team. Senior catcher Erica Siegel feels the team is doing well hitting, but on occasion the defense is “shaky.” “Normally each game, there will be innings where offense is our strong suit, but then other innings we will do really well defensively,” says junior second baseman Hannah Gunther.
Despite their struggles, the team is ranked No. 20 in New York State Class A by the May 5 New York State Sportswriters Association poll. The team’s accomplishments don’t stop there. The Lady Rams came out victorious in close games against rivals Oswego, Christian Brothers Academy and East Syracuse-Minoa and in the 12 games the team has won, two have been by walk off-hits. “That was definitely a big highlight of this season for us,” says Keeler. After a win against ES-M on May 13, the Lady Rams clinched the OHSL Freedom American League. “Winning the league feels really good. We wanted to get that done and then start focusing on sectionals,” says Gunther.
Coach DeAugustine feels that the girls have to raise their confidence and must be “expecting to play better every day.” The team also feels that the “team chemistry” needs to improve. “We have to try to get the younger kids to assimilate to the team and try to get everyone to come together,” says Robens. According to Gunther, the team bonds over food. “The girls can eat more than any team I have had in a while,” says Coach DeAugustine. “They may not look it but food does not last long around them.”
The team’s next goal is to continue their play into sectionals, after losing to New Hartford by two runs in the semifinals last year. However, some players aren’t confident on the squad’s chances at sectionals. “I don’t fully believe that we can win sectionals because it a very difficult task to complete but I am hopeful,” says Keeler. Despite their apprehensiveness, the team is still working hard in practice to win games. “As a team we do a good job of standing by each other. We’ve had a lot of close games where we’ve gotten down on ourselves, but we work as a team and manage to pull out the win. I think that is going to carry into sectionals,” says Gunther.
In order to clinch the second seed in the sectional tournament, the team had to defeat rival CBA May 14. J-DHS came out on top, shutting out CBA 4-0. “The number two seed helps us tremendously in the tournament because it will put us up against an easier opponent,” says Gunther.
Look out for the Lady Rams as they move into the sectional tournament.