SOUTHINGTON - The Southington softball team got its season started on Wednesday with a 3-1 win over South Windsor and showed some positive signs but the offense came out of the gate slowly, as it scored just three runs, two of which were unearned.
The Southington softball program is used to having an offense that features big, intimidating power hitters but this year, the lineup is fairly small. The Blue Knights of the past had the ability to rack up extra-base hit after extra-base hit but this season, the team may have to rely a little bit more on small ball.
In Wednesday’s season opener, Southington did execute the small-ball style of play it may be forced to use this season on certain key occasions but at this point, it is clear the offense is a work in progress in the early going.
One of the prime examples of the Blue Knights playing small-ball came in the sixth inning against South Windsor. Second-spot hitter Michelle Woodruff started off the inning with a bunt single and took second base because nobody was covering. She then took third base on a wild pitch to the next batter and scored on a sacrifice fly. It’s that type of play that the team hopes becomes commonplace this season.
“I think it’s going to get better but I do think we did a pretty good job [on Wednesday],” head coach Davina Hernandez said of the team’s offense. “I think we just need to continue to see live pitching and loosen up a little bit.
“I think we fouled off a lot of bunts. We have really been focusing a lot on our slaps but I think we need to do a better job of getting our bunts down. I think if we did, we would have definitely had two or three more runs [against South Windsor].”
One of the keys for Southington’s offense this season will be leadoff hitter Sarah Myrick. The junior left fielder is the prototypical slap hitter that looks to use her speed to get on base any way she can and Hernandez thinks as Myrick’s on-base percentage goes up, the offense will thrive.
“Sarah is going to be a huge part of our offense this year,” Hernandez said about Myrick, who went 0-3 with two strikeouts in the opener. “She didn’t reach base [on Wednesday] but when she does, I think we will be able to score some runs.”
For Hernandez, this style of offense is a bit of an adjustment but it is also an adjustment for the players that have been around the program for the past couple of seasons. Individual players won’t have to change their hitting style because of the makeup of the team, but it may be a case of Southington playing a few more close games this season.
As for how the players who have been on power-hitting Southington teams of the past will handle the adjustment, they don’t think it will be difficult and in the end all the team really care about is scoring enough runs to win games.
“I don’t think the adjustment will be hard,” said Kara Zazzaro, who earned the win against South Windsor in the circle and bats fifth. “I think that we all have experience with our travel teams and working with different kinds of groups. But I think that one way or another we are going to work together cohesively and as long as we get people on base and get those clutch hits, that’s really all that matters.”
Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @Bigwoolf5