FELTON – Each spring brings new hope and a fresh start.
Lake Forest’s softball program, looking for a third-straight DIAA state tournament appearance, has high hopes heading into the 2017 season.
With just three seniors on this year’s roster, head coach Ashlie Tatman has a plethora of young talent to display on the softball diamond at Lake Forest High School.
The squad has only been able to practice together since March 1, but she’s already been impressed with how the team has played together.
“The girls have really enjoyed themselves so far this spring,” Coach Tatman said “They’re happy to be back together as a unit. They felt like they hadn’t even left the field. They’re just happy to come back and all be playing together again. They seem driven and goal-oriented this year and they really want to go further than they did last year – that’s always a goal that we have.”
Coach Tatman has been coaching at Lake Forest for four years as she enters her third season as the varsity head coach.
“Even though we’re a young team, a lot of these girls have played together before, through travel ball, so we do work well together as a team. With us being relatively young, I think the seniors will really step up this year and be leaders for the younger girls – especially the two freshmen on the team this year,” coach Tatman said.
Seniors Faith Garey, Mya Maddox and Kerrigan Simpson will provide the veteran leadership for Lake’s pair of newcomers – freshmen Cassie Dempsey and Kayley Joiner.
“The seniors and the older members of the team are definitely going to have to lead by example, to develop them a little bit,” Tatman said. “But I definitely think each one of the girls will play a role on the team and can be an asset for us this year.”
Sophomores Grace Aguilar and Abigail Collins and juniors Brittany Baker, Brooke Glanden, Kaitlyn Stahre and Kayla Thompson round out the Lake Forest roster.
One aspect coach Tatman is concerned with improving for 2017 is overall team focus. Last season began with a five-game win streak, but Lake finished the final 13 games of the season with a 7-6 record.
“I think we just need to be focused on the goal and stay humble,” Tatman said. “Last year we had a winning streak going in the beginning, and then I think maybe the girls took that for granted in a way. They maybe got a little bit ahead of themselves last year, but as long as they stay focused and humble I think we’ll be fine this season.”
In addition to improving upon last year’s 12-6 record and second straight state tournament appearance, coach Tatman says each player typically sets individual goals as well. If individual goals are met, and every player does their job well, the team results on the field will shine through.
The team hasn’t been able to compete in a real-game situation yet due to the team’s first scrimmage being cancelled. This Saturday, March 18, Lake Forest will travel to North Caroline High School (MD) for the first scrimmage of the season.
“When we’re able to scrimmage and actually go up against another team, that’s when we’ll be able to see where we are and what we need to hone in on,” coach said.
Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at email@example.com.