QZ93 Sports

Rockwood softball set to soar

In Rockwood, Softball, WestPAC on March 21, 2009 at 6:00 am

The Rockwood softball team finished a game shy of the playoffs last season, finishing with an 8-10 record. But looking beyond the surface, a striking statistic stands out. The Rockets lost six games by a single run.

It certainly made for some tough moments, but third-year coach Jon Hale thinks it also made for some tough competitors.

“Our girls gained a lot of experience last year, and being that we’ll have a lot of seniors and juniors on the field this year, I feel we can use that experience,” said Hale in an interview with QZ93 Sports. “The girls know what it takes to win this year. They understand what they need to do to win.

“A lot of those close games last year were heartbreakers, but they have put in the time to make themselves better. We’re looking to be competitive and were hoping to make the playoffs. That’s our goal. But it’s also our goal to have the girls having fun and learning a lot about softball.”

The Rockets are going to have a solid mix of veteran leadership, as well as some young talent to lead the way this season.

“Some of our record is going to count on how the younger girls do and how well they jell with the upperclassmen coming back,” Hale said.

One of Somerset County’s top players, shortstop Kelsey Pletcher, returns for her junior season and her third as a starter. She batted .520 last year and will work as the cleanup batter this season.

“We have a few girls that are pretty good hitters, Kelsey being one, and Leah Clay had a good year last year as a freshman,” said Hale, whose team opens the season Wednesday at home against Shade at 4:15 p.m. “Junior Courtney Mitchell has been looking very good with the bat and a senior, Kaitlyn Keefer, has a pretty good bat. We’re young everywhere else and we’ll rely on freshmen to help us be competitive.”

On the mound, the Rockets will count on two sophomores that gained valuable experience a season ago. Clay and Jordan Pritts, a pair of righties, are expected to carry the bulk of the Rockwood pitching duties this year.

“The girls are working hard to put a quality team on the field,” Hale said. “Fans will see that the girls are very dedicated to improving and they will see what I will call very aggressive game play. We’ll be aggressive on the bases and aggressive on the mound. I think fans will see an improved defense from last year and I hope that our bats come alive.”

The Rockets are also looking forward to some field renovations as new clay is being put down. The maintenance should be complete by the season opener Wednesday.

“The field’s going to look pretty good after (today),” Hale said.

BY MATT JORDAN
matt@qz93sports.com

Note: This is the first in a series of stories profiling softball teams around Somerset County and the WestPAC.

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