20 girls out for South Tahoe softball
Last year: 2-22
Key returners: Kendra Terry, Libby Bigelow and Salleen Hancock
Key to success: Gaining experience
Opener: Tuesday, March 12, at Hug, 3:30 p.m.
Last year, eight South Tahoe High’s varsity softball team players picked up diplomas, cleaned out their lockers, and moved on to continue their education.
Eight of those players made up the team’s nine starters.
Five of those players — Heather Roderick, Jill Barna, Vanessa Porter, Stephanie Terry and Corrine Edwards — went on to play college-level softball.
Roderick, Barna and Porter received scholarships to do so.
Stephanie Terry walked on and made the roster at her school. Edwards was invited to pitch at her school, and Tabatha Porter is now a coach at Chico High School.
As a result of losing that many star players, coach Rich Barna can’t help but see a big, empty hole when he looks at his starting roster this year.
“I’m relying on (junior) Libby Bigelow to step up and pitch at this level, which she has never done,” Barna said.
He has also asked some sophomores to step up and pitch.
“I’m asking them to compete beyond there abilities for them to be successful,” he said.
It looks like the team will have six sophomores stepping up to fill some pretty big shoes.
But with so many starters moving on, the question of why the team ended up 2-22 hangs in the air like a pop-fly.
Barna said ESPN ranked Wooster High 15th in the nation last year, Reed was ranked 17th, and that Reno was climbing up in the ranks. All play in the same league as South Tahoe.
“You have to look in the league I play in” he said. “(It’s) incredible. Even though I don’t do well in the win-loss column, because of the competition I play against, the girls are looked at. The girls are sought after. Not by the D1 or D2 schools all the time, but by other schools looking to train,” he said.
And that’s the one to grow on for the team: training.
In the summer, Barna coaches a club team that practices as often as two times a week, hits the weights three times a week and competes in tournaments on weekends.
“A lot of these girls have been working real hard,” he said.
The club team played in Florida Feb. 14-23 for their own version of spring training. Barna said they trained every day and practiced two or three times a week.
Ninety percent of the team that “vacationed” in Florida will be on the Vikings this season.
“Even though we’re young, we’re not going to change our philosophy. We’re going to play hard and take it to these teams,” he said. “Hard work will pay off.”
Salleen Bigelow, one of the team’s two returning seniors, is excited to be going into her final year as one of the club’s two seniors.
“I’ve never really been into sports or anything, but (softball) came natural. I really love it. It’s one of my favorite things to do,” she said.
Bigelow, a third baseman, plans to focus her energy on improving her batting this year.
“We got a bunch of hard-working girls. They might be young, but they are willing to go after it,” Barna said.
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