New coach, new attitude for STHS softball | TahoeDailyTribune.com

New coach, new attitude for STHS softball

Jeremy Evans

No disrespect to previous South Tahoe softball coach Rich Barna, but first-year coach Joann Allister didn’t waste any time in leaving an impression on this year’s Vikings. In fact, it took just one practice.

“It’s amazing what she’s done for this team,” said junior catcher Shaylene McLaughlin. “We’ve always been kind of unorganized and just kind of showed up to practice. Now it’s organized and we get stuff done every day. It’s a totally different atmosphere.

“She’s stricter, which makes us work harder. And when you work harder, you learn more.”

South Tahoe, which went 0-14 last year in the Sierra Division, will find out just how much it’s learned in its season opener on Friday against Rio Linda at the Hug Tournament in Reno. The Vikings also play host Hug on Friday and finish tournament play on Saturday.

While the difference from last year in coaching philosophy has been obvious, there is no denying Barna left Allister some serious talent. South Tahoe returns 10 players from last year’s team, including all-league pitchers in sophomore Kelly Bartlett and senior Mollie Novasel.

As a freshman, Bartlett logged 60 of the team’s 131 innings in 2005. Novasel led the team with a .250 batting average as a utility player.

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As one of several seniors who have yet to qualify for the postseason during their careers, Novasel is excited about the team’s chances this year.

“We have talent all around, in every area,” Novasel said. “It’s not even like last year. Last year, we were hoping to win. This year, we are expecting to win. It’s definitely a different attitude.”

Also returning for the Vikings is junior outfielder Danielle Lowe and senior infielder Jen Bigelow. Both were all-league honorable mention players last year.

Allister has converted Lowe into a left-handed hitter in the preseason and, along with talented freshman Brittany Barcellos, she plans to use them as a 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup. Both players should have high on-base percentages.

“They are probably the quickest players we have on the team,” Allister said. “They can both slap. They can both hit away and they can both bunt. And you can’t defend that.”

In addition to her talent on the field, Allister’s pedigree is also a big reason the Vikings are feeling confident they will surprise teams in 2006.

Allister was an assistant softball coach at Division I Stephen F. Austin for four years, and also coached her two daughters, Michelle and Jessica, at a high level during their club softball careers.

Michelle Allister played at the University of Missouri and Jessica Allister was a four-year starter at Stanford behind the plate at catcher. That kind of experience hasn’t gone unnoticed by coach Allister’s players.

“Mrs. Allister is a really good coach and has had two daughters who have played Division I softball,” Bigelow said. “She knows what she’s doing. I think we have a lot of natural athletes on our team and a lot of young players that are stepping up to the plate. This tournament this weekend should give us a good clue to what we’re going up against.”

True to her rigid ways, Allister said she will use this weekend’s tournament to determine playing positions for this season.

“Nobody should feel comfortable in their positions yet because they need to prove themselves on the field,” Allister said. “The kids know they don’t get any slack. It doesn’t matter who you are or if you were on the team last year. Expectations are the same for everyone.”

STHS bunts

Coach: Joann Allister, 1st year

Last year: 0-14 Sierra Division

Coach’s record: U/A

Opener: Friday vs. Rio Linda and Hug at Hug Tournament

STHS Schedule

Date Opponent Time

#Friday Rio Linda 1:30 p.m.

#Friday Hug 4:45 p.m.

#Saturday TBA 10 a.m.

March 14 Dayton 3:30 p.m.

March 15 Damonte 3:30 p.m.

March 18 Damonte (2) 10 a.m.

March 23 Reno 3:30 p.m.

March 25 Reno (2) 10 a.m.

March 30 Wooster 3:30 p.m.

April 1 Wooster (2) 1 p.m.

April 6 Douglas 3:30 p.m.

April 8 Douglas (2) 1 p.m.

April 11 Carson 3:30 p.m.

April 13 Carson 3:30 p.m.

April 25 Carson 3:30 p.m.

April 27 N. Valleys 3:30 p.m.

April 29 N. Valleys (2) 10 a.m.

May 4 Hug 3:30 p.m.

May 6 Hug (2) Noon

Note: Home games are in bold; #Hug Tournament.