Greenville ready to take the softball field

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 9:29 am on Thursday, April 11, 2013

Greenville’s Sarah Newhouse delivers a pitch during a game last year against the Belding Redskins. Newhouse will be one of the Yellow Jackets’ main pitchers this season.

GREENVILLE — After weeks of working on fundamentals, the Greenville Yellow Jackets softball team is ready to take to the field.

But, like every other area sports team, they anxiously wait for the weather to break. For the rain to stop, the fields to dry and the temperature to warm.

It’s been, to say the least, a horrible spring. But the Yellow Jackets are hoping Saturday is the day they actually get to play a game.

Greenville returns 10 of 13 players from a year ago. Because of that, expectations are high for coach Tom Hallock.

“With the returning players and being in a new conference, I have pretty high expectations for this group,” he said. “Everybody is back at key positions. We will still have to make some plays.”

Hallock said his team lost a lot of close games last year. He’s hoping the experience is the difference in those close games this year.

“We lost a lot of close ballgames last year I thought we had a chance to win,” Hallock said. “With another year of experience for everyone it should push us over the edge.”

Among the returning players are pitchers Lexii Canterbury and Sarah Newhouse. Both saw plenty of time on the mound a year ago.

“I’m excited for them. They both have been working on some new stuff over the offseason,” Hallock said. “I’m looking forward to seeing it pan out in games.”

Also returning are some of last year’s leading hitters.

Nikota Howe, a junior, led Greenville in average, RBI and extra base hits. Elizabeth Niemiec was the second leading hitter and Beth Gantz led the team in stolen bases.

“Kae Page is back too. She finished the year hitting strong after a slow start,” Hallock said.

With those four back and others, Hallock considers the offense and infield defense to be strong points this year.

“Offense is definitely the strong point of our team,” Hallock said. “Also, our returning infield. I feel we will be better picking up the ball and throwing people out.”

Like any team, there will still be things to work on, especially since they have yet to practice outside.

“It’s just so hard to simulate fly balls and working on communication inside,” Hallock said. “Especially, the outfield stuff. Infield, you can give them a lot of ground balls, but it’s not like fielding on dirt.”

The Yellow Jackets were scheduled to play at Rockford today, but that game has been canceled. They are now scheduled to play in the Rockford Invitational on Saturday.

They will face Grand Rapids Christian at 9 a.m., followed by Wyoming (11 a.m.) and Rockford at (1 p.m.)

“I want to see girls in the positions where I envisioned them at and settle in,” Hallock said. “I want to see how they adjust to the game situations. We simulated things inside, but it’s not like a game. I’m hoping our returning experience will step up and pay off for us.”

Greenville is at Forest Hills Eastern to open O-K Bronze play on Tuesday.

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