How does this team compare to past teams?
“Pretty high. We had a great winter. Probably the best winter we’ve had in a long while. I really think the success of the football team, and how hard they worked in the weight room, kind of sent a message to my players. And they’ve been in the weight room all winter. Coach Ralph put them through some speed and agility type of stuff, along with the weight room. So, I’m pretty excited.”
Did seeing coach Ralph and the football team receive their state championship rings, and go through that entire process of winning a title, bring back any memories?
“Absolutely. It was certainly an exciting time for the school and certainly well deserved. Our athletic programs this year, overall, have been very successful. I think success kind of breeds success. You never know how it’s going to end up, but I do know that the girls prepared really well this winter.”
Story continues below gallery
There’s a lot of talk already around the area regarding one of your freshmen, Ashley Prange. How is she doing so far?
“She’s tough. Very good player. But, my whole freshman class has a lot of depth, and that has really pushed my upperclassmen. Because from our very first fall workout, I had upperclassmen going home telling their parents, ‘Hey, these freshmen are really good. I may not have a spot.’ I think once they saw that, it added some intensity to our workouts and some motivation for them also.”
What position does Prange play?
“She’ll be kind of a utility. She seems to be pretty good no matter where I put her … catcher, very good infielder. She may play some outfield from time to time. Good hitter. I would anticipate her coming in and being able to contribute right away.”
You mentioned depth. How many total girls are you carrying on the varsity and JV rosters?
“I had 34 try out, and we kept 28. I only put 12 on varsity to begin with, but I’ve got some flexibility to rotate some other players around to try to get some game experience to a lot of different players.”
And it sounds like they’re all talented. How will you handle playing time?
“It’s really tough. It’s a great problem to have, obviously, but it’s really tough when you’ve got kids that you think deserve to be on varsity, and they’re not. That’s kind of a tough thing, but I don’t want to keep 16 on varsity and then have the problem with playing time and having a lot of kids sit. That really isn’t helping them, either. I’ve got some kids on JV that I really believe could go play in college. It’s a tough deal for them, but I think they understand the talent level we have right now. As a coach, you just try to take what you have and put it together the best you can. And try to get everyone to gel, and so far they have.”
Kaylin McMurray and Elisa Barker were your 1 and 1A pitchers last season. Same setup this year?
“Yep, I’m kind of planning on handling it the same way. Kaylin was the starter, and then Elisha would come in and kind of close things out. They both had good years last year. I’m hoping they’ll do even better this year. And then I’ve got four freshmen pitchers. My JV coach said, ‘I’m actually going to have a rotation this year. I’ve never had that before.’”
Could this be your best team ever?
“I’m not going to say that because you never know. I’ve told the girls, ‘We’ve had a lot of great teams over the years, so I’m not going to say this is going to be our best team. But it certainly could be the most depth we’ve ever had throughout the entire program.’ I think I’ve got 26 girls out of 28 who play travel ball. I’ve got a lot of difficult choices to make and that type of thing, but that’s what coaches have to do. We’re going to try to mesh the talent together the best we can and see what we can come up with.”