Prep Softball: Returning Boyle players eager to build on state tournament success
Boyle County coach Brian Deem high-fives MacKenzie Wray (4) and Danielle Mason (8) after they scored on a two-run single by KK Davis during the fifth inning of the Rebels' 7-3 win over Ryle on Friday in the state softball tournament at Jack C. Fisher Park in Owensboro. (Hal Morris / June 10, 2012)
But that won’t happen next year, and the returning players who helped the Rebels go 3-2 during their three-day stay at the Rawlings/KHSAA State Softball Tournament are ready for the challenge of being the type of team they were going after as they made their run.
“I think we’ll be ready for anything knowing we’ve gotten this far this year. We’ll be prepared next yer for anything, any competition,” said junior center fielder Amy Woolum, who added that the Rebels will enter next season with “a lot of confidence.”
“We’re not going to be overconfident, but we’re definitely going to have enough confidence.”
But junior pitcher Elysse Petrie said coach Brian Deem will keep their confidence in check.
“Coach will keep us grounded, but we’re going to be as confident as we need to be,” she said.
The Rebels will have plenty of reasons to be confident.
They lose just two seniors — KK Davis and Lindsey Edwards — and junior Chelsea Gill has missed this season after suffering a knee injury during basketball season. So a team chock full of veterans returners has few holes to fill. And even those spots will make for good competition in the preseason.
“We’re losing two people, and we have two open spots that are up for grabs,” sophomore Lauren Richards said.
Based on their statistics entering the tournament, the Rebels return 111 of their 156 RBIs, 236 of their 294 hits, 176 of their 203 runs, 44 of their 56 doubles, all eight home runs and 26 of 31 stolen bases.
Junior pitchers Petrie and Hannah Miniard combined to go 20-4 with 200 strikeouts and 37 walks in 143 innings. Each also picked up a win in the state tournament.
Petrie said the Rebels’ pitching staff should be just as strong next season as it was this year.
“Hannah has a bunch of strong points, she’s a great pitcher and a great batter and a great teammate and just our whole team,” she said. “We all love each other and we’re all committed to making our program better.”
Boyle finished just outside the top 25 in the final coaches poll, but the Rebels’ run at state, combined with how many players are back, could change that.
“I would love to se that. And I’m pretty sure we’re getting our name out now,” Woolum said. “We’ve already won three games at state, nobody has heard of Boyle County. That’s the thing, we’re here.”
A possible ranking may put a bigger target on their backs, but Richards expects that anyway.
“I like thinking people are out to get us because we know we’re ready for them because we came so far this year and we know what to expect,” she said.
Deem said he hopes his team knows what to expect, and he knows it’s his job to make sure the Rebels are prepared for another run to the regional title and state semifinals.
“One of the things I’ve felt we needed to during this week, we need to learn from this experience — from the good and the bad. And there’s already things I would do differently if we ever get back here,” he said. “But it does look promising. We’ve got a great freshman class coming in. The thing is, how we handle success is also a big part of handling adversity. And sometimes kids don’t handle success real well.
“We’re going to be everybody’s big game, and sometimes you have kids that don’t think they have to work very hard because of what they’ve done in the past.”
With so many returnees and so much experience back, Byrne said there aren’t too many changes they will need to make.
“We said all year we want to be the team to beat, so like Lauren said, we’re going to have two open spots, so just filing those spots and each one of us stepping up our game to prepare for next year.
“Just keep doing what we’re doing, just stay the course, I guess.”