Tourtellotte softball coach looks to experienced players
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Thompson - posted Mon., Mar. 28, 2011
Tourtellotte Memorial High School’s softball team has a core group of players returning from last season, nine of them seniors.
“They’re really experienced,” said head softball coach Brooke Nici. “Right now I’m just looking for them to perform the best they can and to teach the underclassmen what they need to know before they leave. This is a very talented group, and when they leave us, we’re going to be hard-pressed to replace them.”
On the fourth day of tryouts, Nici wasn’t sure if she was going to cut any of the 16 students who were trying out for the team. She moved behind a line of players throwing tennis balls back and forth. “Get closer together,” she said as she made her way down the line.
The players were using “soft hands” - flat, paddle-like gloves - to catch the tennis balls. Nici was trying to get her players to use both hands to cover and catch the ball. “If they can do it with a tennis ball, which is bouncier, they’ll do it easier with the softball,” she said. “It’s good for hand-eye coordination.”
Nici put the prospective players through what she called “everyday drills” that stress the fundamentals, including agility.
The coach expects the team to include four pitchers, three catchers, and a bevy of players who can move from one position to another easily. “We’re going to be very strong in the outfield because even when I have to pull one of my outfielders, I have others who can go in just as strong,” she said. “Right now, I have three upper-class catchers. One is coming off an injury. The others are both quick and good at bat.”
Nici thinks an experienced pitching staff and a strong defense will be strengths for the Tourtellotte team.
At the tryouts, Nici gathered her team around to explain the defensive drills she wanted them to work through. There were seven or eight defensive stations and she took the whole group through at once.
A batting cage hung from the ceiling, and inside, a batter faced a pitching machine. The sound of the aluminum bat hitting softballs rang out across the gym. “I try to have them do as many reps as possible,” Nici said. In another section of the gym, two players practiced bunting.
“We’re focusing on hitting right now, just because we have the facilities,” the coach said.
Tourtellotte’s first game will be an away game against Bacon Academy April 8. Nici is pleased with their overall schedule this year. “We lucked out,” she said. “We have 13 home games out of 20. And we have a good field. I think it will be dry by then.”
Tourtellotte Memorial High School Head Softball Coach Brooke Nici
First season with the team.
With nine seniors returning from last season, an experienced pitching staff, good defensive skills and hitting abilities, Tourtellotte promises to be a tough team to beat this season. “It’s great walking into this and having a lot to play with and a lot of flexibility,” said Nici.