A fresh crop of freshmen has renewed Jamie Amerine’s enthusiasm for the upcoming softball season.
Amerine, entering her second year as head coach for the Allen Community College softball team, will oversee a roster of 14. Of those, 10 are freshmen.
The Red Devils open the 2014 season today at the Carl Albert Festival in Poteau, Okla. The Red Devils take on Southwestern Tennessee today at noon, followed by host Carl Albert at 4 p.m.
The home schedule opens at 2 p.m. Tuesday against Maplewoods Community College.
The Red Devil roster is smaller than last year’s 9-30 squad that featured 20 players.
“Some might see that as a disadvantage,” Amerine said. “I see it as an advantage. With larger rosters, the players often separate into their own cliques. This year, the girls have really come together. We have some good team chemistry.”
How that chemistry relates to the victory column will depend largely on Allen’s pitching.
A trio of freshmen will share pitching duties this season, all of whom bring different strengths to the table.
Emily England, out of Baldwin, has good movement, particularly with her offspeed pitches, Amerine said. Mackenzi Beck, Topeka, also offers good control and can vary her speed. Marissa Luna is a good all-around pitcher.
Who gets the nod will depend primarily on the style of opponent, Amerine said.
The addition of assistant coach Nicole Nicholas, also the team’s pitching coach, has already paid dividends.
“As a non-pitcher, I was the one who worked with the pitchers last year,” Amerine noted. “These girls have already come a long way in a short amount of time. She’s taught the girls some new pitches, and they’ve increased their speed.”
A NECESSITY for a roster as small as Allen’s is flexibility.
Fortunately, the Red Devils have plenty, Amerine said.
“We have some good speed up and down the roster,” Amerine said. “We also have some power in the lineup, and a lot of good RBI hitters.”
An example of the flexibility comes up the middle of the defense. Cassidy Reynolds, freshman, Topeka, Bailey Burnett, sophomore, Independence, and Annie Gentry, will split time among themselves at catcher, second base and short stop.
“They can play up the middle,” Amerine said, a necessity for a solid defense.
When Beck isn’t pitching, she’ll handle first base. She’ll be backed up by Calliee Beene, freshman, Seminole, Okla.
“Both of them did a great job defensively in the fall,” Amerine said.
On the other side of the diamond, Luna will handle third base when she’s not pitching. Otherwise, Kayla Bourgeois, freshman, Laplace, La., will man the hot corner.
Stormie Bush, one of the four sophomores, will man center field. The Melvern native provides plenty of speed.
“She really reads the ball well and has a strong arm,” Amerine said.
A group of freshman — Shelby Maycomber, Fort Scott, Jordan Barber, Holton, Erika King, Pleasant Hill, Mo., and L’orien Pacheco, Gardner — as well as Kincaid sophomore Shayla Stephens all can play multiple positions in the outfield.
“It’s nice having that many options,” Amerine said. “Every day is a tryout. I can see us using a lot of different lineups.”