Girls start year with hopes of title

The Indian River softball team is gearing up for a run at the title this year as they return nine players from last season’s roster.
Coastal Point • JOHN DENNY: Brittany Steele, a freshman, pitches at a recent practice at Indian River.Coastal Point • JOHN DENNY:
Brittany Steele, a freshman, pitches at a recent practice at Indian River.

“This year’s team is the deepest we’ve had here in the past few years,” said head coach Mark Browne. “Anytime you have 13 or 14 girls who can start is a nice problem to have.”

The Indians should have ample depth at several positions, which may be a critical factor in making a run in the southern Henlopen conference this year.

A few players will be returning from injury or enduring nagging injuries from previous sports this season. Junior Kayla Warrington returns after suffering shoulder problems last season and junior Shauna Jacobs has finally recovered from a shoulder surgery two years ago.

All-state senior catcher Ravin Robinson reassured that she will be fine, despite battling a pesky jumper’s knee this past basketball season.

“I don’t feel any discomfort when I’m catching, so I’m not worried,” said Robinson.

Robinson is expected to regain her all-state status of the previous year but will also have another role — mentor. Freshman Jill Gamble will back up Robinson this year behind the plate and will look to pick up anything she can to get better.

“This is a great opportunity to learn from one of the best. Ravin does so many things well that Jill will have a great example to learn from,” said Browne.

The pitching staff is also shaping up to be a real strength for Browne’s softball team. “Right now it looks like we’ll have three good starting pitchers, with Kathryn Riley leading the pack,” said Browne. “This will be her first opportunity to pitch a lot of games.”

Warrington and freshman Brittany Steele are penciled in as the Indians second and third starting pitchers for the up-coming season.

Riley earned second team all-conference honors as a sophomore last year. The sophomore earned her stripes getting tournament pitching time last season and striking out 10 batters in the conference rivalry game against Seaford.

The Indians infield is loaded with talent and should compliment their pitching staff. Junior Sara Powell returns to first base and third, junior Jennifer Tyre (both 2nd team all conference) returns to second base, and senior Jessica Spencer will round out the starting infield at shortstop.

While positions may seem secure for the moment, there is a group of freshmen that may push for playing time.

“Abby Buechler, Jordan Warrington, Haley Brennan and Brittany Steele should all push our starters for playing time,” said Browne. “Once we get a line-up I’d like to stick to it, but if someone is hot they’re going to play.”

As the competition for starting positions heats up on the Indians team-league competition has increased as well.

“We have gotten a lot better but so has everyone else in the league. We’re going to be in the running with about three or four other teams for the southern Henlopen conference title this year,” said Browne.

Everything seems to be right on track for the Indians, as this season gets ready to kick off.

“We’ve been simulating game-like situations in practice and that seems to have put us ahead of the game,” said Browne. “My girls are so fundamentally sound that I don’t have to spend time teaching — they can just play.”