Bruton softball rebuilds team around young core, Lafayette eager and recovered from last year's injuries

Staff writer

Nothing quite says spring like softball players taking the field. Ahead of the start of the regular season next week, we’ll be showcasing all four Williamsburg high school teams and their goals for the year.

Bruton

Last year’s record: 3-18 overall

For the Panthers, the issue facing the team this year is a simple one: youth. For coach Kyle Cowles, that makes Bruton’s mission this year also a simple one: maturity.

“Last year, we took some positive steps, but we have a younger team here, we’re working to establish team cohesion as we move forward,” said Cowles. “We’d like to finish over .500 this year, but it’s just as important that our team members learn to work together and improve because they’re going to be our foundation for the next few years.”

Left fielder Emily Dhanvada is one of only two seniors on the team, which makes her duty as one of the team leaders even more critical.

“I’ve played softball for Bruton all four years I’ve attended, I love the sport, I always have, and always will,” said Dhanvada. “Passing that on to the younger players is important, I’d like all of us as a team to win, make it to the postseason, really end on a high note, but figuring out where everyone fits together on the team is key.”

For players like sophomore Megan Hicks, that can require more flexibility than most.

“I alternate between pitcher and shortstop, and while I enjoy playing shortstop a little bit more, I’ll play whichever the team needs me more at,” said Hicks. “I’m willing to do what it takes for this team, we all are, and as we learn to work together, winning becomes that much easier.”

First game: Bruton vs. York at York High, 4:30 p.m. March 13.

Lafayette

Last year’s record: 4-15 overall

With several of their upperclassman players injured, the Rams softball team had a rough season last year. This year, with a healthy roster and the largest number of players Lafayette has fielded in years — 18 — coach Timothy Jones says he expects great things.

“We had some struggles last year, especially with injuries, and we lost a few players we weren’t expecting to lose, but overall, we competed in every game, and improved as the season went on,” said Jones. “Last year was rough, but this year the team is healthy, energetic, and eager to make our opponents work for every point.”

Few players want to take the field this year more than senior Jacquelyn Boesler, who after spending last season injured, is eager to make up for lost time on the field.

“I still came to all the games last year, but it was hard not being able to play myself,” said Boesler. “We had a lot of new players last year, we’re all working better together this year, and I’m looking forward to getting to take the field with them.”

It hasn’t been without some adjustment for Boesler — she will be playing first base this year, having previously played catcher. The shift hasn’t slowed her down though, or her desire for one last win against a cross-town rival.

“I was a catcher prior to my injury, so playing first base has taken some getting used to, but I’m confident, and so is the team,” said Boesler. “The last time we beat Jamestown was my Freshman year, so I’d like to at least beat them again this year as a senior.”

For fellow senior Sarah Bryant, who plays center field, she thinks that the team is stronger now than it’s been in years.

“We had a lot of potential last year, but with a lot of our older players injured, we didn’t get to act on it as much as we should have,” she said. “This year, I think we’re going to be able to meet that potential much easier, there is a lot of skill on this team, and we all want the team to be the best it’s been in a long time.”

She has a personal mission for the season for herself as well: “I really want to work on my hitting this year. I tend to bunt by habit, so I’d like to hit a few dingers into the outfield before I graduate this year.”

First game: Lafayette vs. Smithfield at Smithfield High, 4:30 p.m. March 13.

Want more? Next Wednesday, The Virginia Gazette will wrap up its spring softball showcase with a look at Warhill and Jamestown.

Sean CW Korsgaard can be reached at 757-968-1529, by email sean.korsgaard@vagazette.com, and on Twitter @SCWKorsgaard.

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette
70°