Bartlett High softball in building mode this season
The Bartlett High softball team, hoping for a return to the state tournament.
By CHRISTOPHER TREMBLAY, Staff Sports Writer
Last spring the Bartlett softball team finished the regular season around .500, earning itself a spot in the Division 4 State Tournament. Unfortunately, once in the tournament the Indians were not able to make it past their first game and succumbed to Abington 9-3.
Regrettably Coach Courtney Stawiecki will be returning only five athletes to this year’s team from the previous team. Stawiecki only has fifteen players on her roster this year and out of the ten newcomers, eight have never played the sport.
Vicky Spitz, the Indians’ first baseman, was lost for the season due to an injury sustained during the basketball season and was not cleared to play softball this spring.
“The loss of Vicky completely changes the dynamic of our infield, and we are forced to consistently move people around,” the Bartlett coach said.
Sophomores Taryn Gerber and Dakota Vaudriul will make up the Indians’ battery. Gerber will be located behind the plate full-time this year after only getting into one contest as a catcher last spring. She found herself mostly as a utility player as a freshman. Vaudriul was a left fielder for Stawiecki last season but will be in the circle this year for Bartlett. Last season she had encountered a shoulder injury and wasn’t allowed to pitch.
The other three athletes to return to the field this year are all seniors: Camryn Philips, Elizabeth Adams and Dawanee Phangthavong. Philips, according to the coach, was groomed to be a second baseman with smoothness to her game, but she will also play first and shortstop as well. The senior is trying to step up for the squad and taking more of a leadership role and communicating with the team.
Adams will be playing first base as well as sharing time with Dakota pitching and Phangthavong is moving over from right field into center, where she will take command of the outfield. Phangthavong has the range to play center while helping out the corner outfielders, which are typically new and unestablished players. Outside of Vaudriul, Phangthavong is the team’s only other experienced outfielder.
Despite having such a small team with only five returning players the coach is looking for growth throughout the season from her athletes. As they continue to play the sport she is hoping that they become more consist defensively, while putting together at bats at the plate.
Following the season Stawiecki is really hoping that the new kids decide to come back next year with some experience under their belts.
“After the five seniors graduate that will leave us with only nine returners for next year if they all decide to come back,” she said. “It’s tough because of the numbers we don’t even have a junior varsity program to pull from.”
According to Stawiecki, the younger kids ae just not getting involved with the sport of softball anymore, leaving the high school without any type of feeder program.
“It’s not that we’re losing the girls to other sports, the girls are just not playing softball. Historically, you have kids moving through the rec leagues into middle school and then into high school, but not lately,” she said. “The rec league programs are not even getting the girls and they are having number issues as well. In fact, we’re not the only school to have low numbers playing the sport, a lot of schools are also having the number issues as well.”
While she still has a full team Stawiecki is hoping that her squad continues to build upon the program while improving the athletes on the field in hopes of returning to the tournament once again. Hopefully this time around Bartlett can take its success deeper into the tournament which in turn will open the eyes of some of the younger girls who will want to play for the team next spring.