With regular-season softball play to begin Tuesday, there’s a sense of optimism among York Comprehensive High School players and head coach Susan Lee Ballard.
This became evident in a Feb. 26 home scrimmage with the Rock Hill Lady Bearcats, during which the Lady Cougars were clicking on all cylinders before the home fans at the YCHS softball complex.
The YCHS girls prevailed 19-0, with solid pitching and defense complementing the team’s timely hitting from start to finish.
Ballard was all smiles after the scrimmage, lauding the players for a total team effort against Rock Hill. “This kind of performance is what the team needed,” she said. “They (Rock Hill) took it to us last season.”
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Ballard is excited about the Lady Cougars’ early success in the preseason.
“We want to continue to improve, knowing we play in a competitive region,” she said. “We feel we have a competitive team. We saw some positive things tonight, which is what we were looking for.”
Several senior players spoke in positive tones after the scrimmage.
Fourth-year varsity participant Nora Childers was named all-region her sophomore year and was on the way to another all-region selection last season until a lower back injury caused her to miss two-thirds of the season.
Childers, a mainstay behind the plate, is a tough out for opposing pitchers and hits with power. She was elated with the team’s dominant performance in the scrimmage with Rock Hill.
“This is a great confidence-booster for our team,” Childers said. “They beat us twentysomething to 1 last year. “We put it all together. We hit the ball and the pitching was great.”
Another four-year varsity participant, center fielder Mattie Ballard, echoed teammate Childers’ sentiments.
“I feel good about the way we played in our scrimmage with Rock Hill,” said Ballard. “They beat us badly last season.”
A left fielder earlier in her career, Ballard patrols center field with a strong arm and the speed to chase down fly balls. “It’s hard to believe this is my senior year,” said Ballard. “I feel great about this year’s team.”
Said Ballard, “Sometimes my hitting is up and down, but I can move the runners bunting the ball. I feel confident bunting the ball.”
Brianna Beverly, a varsity contributor since her sophomore year, has settled into her right field position. She gets more action than some would think when opposing right-handed batters swing late.
Beverly, a confident hitter when she steps to the plate, has been a timely hitter in past years, and this year appears to be more of the same.
“I think a real key to being successful this season is to keep our heads up when things don’t go well,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ballard continues to evaluate personnel as the preseason gives way to the regular-season. “We want to continue working on our hitting,” she said.
The YCHS coach feels good about the team chemistry. “This is a great group to coach,” assures Ballard.
Following Saturday’s participation in the North Central Tournament, the Lady Cougars jump into Region 3-AAAA regular-season play March 11 at Rock Hill. The action begins at 7 p.m. in Bearcat Country.
The first home game will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 13 against Fort Mill.