Batting for State

Legacy’s Girls Varsity Softball Team Prepares for Their Chance to Compete

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Batting for State

The team laughs on as they watch each other practice their

The team laughs on as they watch each other practice their "swag walk," an exercise meant to work on their ability to intimidate the other team when they walk up to the plate. Mrs. Gaffin, the head varsity coach, says that, "Sometimes, when other teams see that you don’t have confidence, they tend to pounce stronger. It builds their confidence. So when we walk up with a little bit of swag, it’s like, ‘I’m not afraid of you, bring me your best pitch.' The point of having "swag up" is to cause a little bit of concern for that pitcher.”

The team laughs on as they watch each other practice their "swag walk," an exercise meant to work on their ability to intimidate the other team when they walk up to the plate. Mrs. Gaffin, the head varsity coach, says that, "Sometimes, when other teams see that you don’t have confidence, they tend to pounce stronger. It builds their confidence. So when we walk up with a little bit of swag, it’s like, ‘I’m not afraid of you, bring me your best pitch.' The point of having "swag up" is to cause a little bit of concern for that pitcher.”

The team laughs on as they watch each other practice their "swag walk," an exercise meant to work on their ability to intimidate the other team when they walk up to the plate. Mrs. Gaffin, the head varsity coach, says that, "Sometimes, when other teams see that you don’t have confidence, they tend to pounce stronger. It builds their confidence. So when we walk up with a little bit of swag, it’s like, ‘I’m not afraid of you, bring me your best pitch.' The point of having "swag up" is to cause a little bit of concern for that pitcher.”

Isabella Hammond and Anna Hartwick

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As the last bell rang on Thursday, 13 girls, ranging from freshmen to seniors, head to the locker room instead of their car or bus. After a quick stop at the locker room, with bats stuck in backpacks and helmets in hand, they walk to the north side of Legacy for varsity softball practice.

 

It’s a hot day. The blistering sun blazes from the sky, the slightest breeze providing momentary relief. It’s not long-pants weather. Despite this, there are no complaints as the girls work for the next two hours.

 

[Left to Right] Alex Genty (sophomore), Micah Bernard (senior), Leah Connor (sophomore) practice off to the side, swinging as hard as they can each time. Mrs. Truitt affirms this by saying that, “I just really expect the girls to bring their best effort and high intensity to the practices.”

 

Two student managers of the team, KJ Strachan, junior, and Hayden Fareley, sophomore, play some classic tunes as the team warms up. Their day is just beginning. It would be a long period of fine-tuning their precision, speed, accuracy, and unity before the day was finally over.

 

So, it’s no surprise that the girls varsity softball team is bringing in win after win in preparation for the state championship, which they hope to apply for on October 25th. It’s a goal they’ve set for themselves, and they’re eager for a chance to win. 

 

“I’m all on board for their goal to win state because I know how fun it is,” adds Mrs. Truitt, assistant varsity coach and former Legacy player herself, “You just look up there and there’s 500 people watching you play. It’s really exciting, it’s loud, it’s probably the most fun out of all the games.”

 

But it takes a lot to get from wanting to win state to actually preparing for it. During every practice, the girls cycle through exercises meant to push them to grow as fast as possible and give it their all.

 

 

“If we didn’t want to win state and we just wanted to have fun, we’d come out and mess around and just have a splendid time,” says Mrs. Gaffin, “We’d probably only practice for an hour… we probably wouldn’t focus this much and really break things down.”

 

While technique is essential, they must also work with the changes in their team as the seniors have left and new freshmen have joined. A strong bond is needed to push them past the other teams in the rankings.

 

Jordon Brotamonte (sophomore), left, throws a ball to Janessa Esquibel (sophomore), right. After stretching, each girl faces a partner, separated into two lines. Girls throw and catch the ball, taking a step backwards after each catch to increase the difficulty of the exercise.

“We focus on what we can get better at while also maintaining what we’re already good at, but really we just focus on working as a team, especially on defense,” comments Hannah Farley, a senior and leader for the team. She goes on to talk about the challenges they’ve faced, saying that, “This year, I think it’s definitely finding our tone and finding stride as we get closer to state and regionals.”

 

With all sports teams comes the pressure of rankings and statistics, but there’s so much more to the value these girls place on their team. While everyone has access to rankings and statistics, some things, like the teammate bond, can’t be defined by numbers.

 

“At the beginning of the year, we have a retreat, and we sit down and we identify what’s important to us as teammates. What is it that we think we can accomplish together,” says Mrs. Gaffin, head varsity coach. 

 

On this team, winning games and making state is important— but being a team comes first. In fact, the girls are working so hard on becoming a team, no single person is the key to bringing them together.

 

“Everyone contributes,” mentions Samantha Bocis, one of only two freshmen on varsity, “Everyone’s backing each other up so you’ve got your team behind you.”

 

Elena Free dives for the ball in the game “Don’t Let the Ball Hit the Island.” Her teammates cheered her on and as soon as she caught one, another ball was thrown, making for an intense round.

Teammate Janesa Esquibel, a sophomore, adds that “I feel like, in this team, everyone’s together. We all bring each other [together] as one and we all play together very well.” 

 

Beyond spending hours together at practice, the girls softball varsity team also participates in “Wonder Woman Wednesday” where they spend time learning a new skill, such as parallel parking or sewing. The goal is to create a stronger sense of empowerment and accomplishment among the team every week.

 

Mrs. Gaffin is especially in favor of this weekly tradition, stating that “Society doesn’t usually build an aggressive female. Usually society builds unaggressive females, and this sport really gets them to be prepared for the real world… it’s not gonna be a bunch of roses and unicorns and butterflies.”

To finish their practice, the team played a game called [name]. Divided with two teams, each individual girl got a number. When her number is called by the coach, she races forward and tries to get the ball to her awaiting team without being tagged by her opponent. According to Ms. Gaffin, they try to end each practice with some team building fun.

The hardest part of this game is that even after someone kicks the ball, if they are tagged, they’re still out. This got even more challenging when more than two girls attempted to grab the ball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It’s a good team bonding [experience] so it’s just fun to be with the girls and

learn new things,” adds Esquibel.

 

The sun’s brutality may be waning as practice ends, but the team’s energy sure isn’t. While a practice session may not be the best time for Legacy fans to support these amazing athletes, the state tournament is just around the corner. The girls are confident that they can win, and with the passion that can be seen at every practice, it’s hard to doubt that.

 

Farley declares that “[State’s] always our goal, every single year. We’ve gone to state every year, we have a chance to win every year.”

 

 

 

 

All photos courtesy of Anna Hartwick