Softball team begins season with high hopes
April 17, 2012 • Adam Griffith, Sports Writer
Filed under Sports
As fourth quarter picks up pace and the weather warms up, most teenagers turn their focus over to the seemingly never-ending countdown to summer break. While the average student might be subject to thoughts like these, the softball team’s minds remains in Lake Zurich. They have a job to do, and they are back and better than ever.
“We are looking at a really skilled group of girls this year,” Michaela Towne, head coach, said. “We did lose some strong seniors, and we don’t replace, we reload. We are a very fast team, so this year we are really focusing on taking advantage of our speed and grabbing lots of runs.”
Capitalizing on their speed and bringing in runs is only the final part of the equation for LZ’s deadly offense that brought them within one game of State last year. While getting knocked out in the semi-finals was a bittersweet ending to the season, it did land the team a spot in an invitational tournament in Tennessee over spring break.
“All of our hitters, while young, are unbelievable,” Shannon McPeek, senior pitcher, said. “Kelly Neises is one of the greatest slappers I’ve seen, and we have a lot of speed on the bases.”
While the team is looking forward to keeping up and improving the team’s stellar offense, they have also turned their focus to improving their defense.
“Our offensive production is what helps us out because we are very potent on offense from our strong hits and speed. Now we need to work on eliminating [our opponents’] runs,” Towne said. “We need to be more consistent in the field. That means eliminating our errors, and since we have a new pitcher this year (McPeek), we are working on pitching so that we aren’t necessarily trying to strike them out, but rather have them hit into outs.”
The change of pitching tactics should bring in positive results if it can be accomplished, and McPeek, a four year veteran to the program who made the move from outfield to the mound just this year, is up for the task.
“This year we have been working on our short game because we have a lot of lefty slappers, so we’ve been working on bunting and stuff like that,” McPeek said. “We’ve also been working on our defense and especially me as a pitcher; since I’m not as fast as Megan Materra (pitcher who graduated last year), I’ve been working on placing the ball so that it is easier to field since I won’t be able to hit the same speed we were bringing last year.”
While only losing a few seniors from last year, the team hopes that along with their strong offense and improving defense, their team’s bond will be the factor that separates them from the rest.
“We lost a couple important seniors from last year and they left some big shoes to fill, but I think we’re doing a good job with that and we have a really strong offense,” Maria Schroeder, sophomore, said. “Everyone gets along and we didn’t lose too many people, so everyone knows each other from last year because for the most part it’s the same players. We have a really fun team this year and we all get along so I’m looking forward to having fun with everyone and playing softball at the same time.”
McPeek looks forward to spending her final season with teammates she has known since her early years and along with that, has set personal goals to wrap up her career as a softball player and a Bear.
“I’ve been playing with this year’s seniors since I was really young, so I’m looking forward to ending my softball career with the group of girls I’ve played with all my life and just make it a really fun season and get as much as I can out of it,” McPeek said. “My goal is to get All-Conference for pitching because this is my last year playing softball and for me that would be the perfect way to end my softball career.”