WILMINGTON -- The Wildcats softball team are ready for another exciting season. Only thing is, they will have to wait longer than most to play their opener.
"I got really high expectations for the team this year," said Twin Valley coach Aaron Wood. "There’s no doubt, in my opinion, that we’ll have the best offense and defense in our division."
That’s a pretty bold statement, but Wood has reason to believe it, given the fact the Wildcats were a D-III draw last season but are now a D-IV contender. The team ended last season with a 9-8 record after falling to Thetford in the first round of the 2013 state tournament.
"We just need us a pitcher who can throw consistently," said Wood. "I’ve got four girls competing for the job."
While Wood is still unclear who exactly will make up the bullpen, he has nailed down a few positions for his seniors.
A senior core comprised of Hannah Swanson, Sammy Cunningham-Darrah, Savannah Nesbitt, Abby Putnam, and Jordan Niles will all start in the team’s opener, which is slated for Monday, April 21 against Woodstock. Twin Valley’s original opener and second game were postponed.
"The girls have set a goal to play in the state championship," said Wood. "To be honest with you, we’re sick of watching the boys get all the glory. The girls want to get there, and we’re not shooting for anything short of that."
Niles will take care of center field and pitch when needed, Putnam, when not on the mound, will cover second or third, Swanson (who Wood considers one of the best basemen in the league) assumes duties at 1B, Nesbitt will be found at short stop, and captain Cunningham-Darrah will be behind the plate.
TV practices of late have been held in the school’s gym, given the condition of the the team’s field. "The only things we’ve been able to do so far, is pitch and hit," said Wood. "We’re trying to accomplish everything. Right now though, I think we need to work on defense. It’s not realistic in the gym. I know we’re going to hit though. It isn’t even really a concern for us."
The first time the Wildcats actually get outside, will be today in a scrimmage at Arlington.
Juniors, in their third year with the Wildcats, include Colton Butler and Christina Moore. Moore and Nesbitt are both returning after coming off injuries last season, and it’s a good thing the two are feeling better, since they are TV’s deadliest sluggers.
Moore is the team’s DH, and Nesbitt is their clutch hitter. "Having them in the three or four spot will really help," said Wood, referring to the batting order.
So it isn’t just seniors who will lead the team, probably well into the playoffs, this year. Junior Jessica Fox (3B) will help lock down the infield, and sophomore Kaylea Niles (LF) will be in the outfield along with an RF to be determined.
Twin Valley roster: Coach - Aaron Wood. Players - Seniors: Hannah Swanson, Sammy Cunningham-Darrah, Savannah Nesbitt, Abby Putnam, Jordan Niles. Juniors: Colton Butler, Christina Moore, Kathy Brad, Natalie Herrick, Jessica Fox. Sophomores: Kaylea Niles, Teya Johnson, Breanna Rasus. Freshmen: Megan Gehoe, Cassidy Walkowiak, Robyn Cunningham.
David Aquino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.