Rebuilding with mechanics

Six starters return to a Southwest softball team billing itself as in a rebuilding year and ready to battle through growing pains.

Emily Snyder, Southwest softball coach, said the Lady Trojans have been working through the summer to improve, specifically in regard to mechanics.

“The three biggest strengths that the Lady Trojans will showcase this season will definitely be their positive attitude, strong work ethics and behind coachable,” Snyder said. “The girls are all ready and willing to do whatever they need to improve, so we can ultimately have a successful season.

“The biggest goal of improvement this season is to simply execute consistently and when it matters. In the off-season, we have been putting in a lot of work mechanically. Really, the main goal is to put the pieces together and create a cohesive team that works well together.”

The six starters returning this year include senior Alissa Russel, juniors Riley Flippo, Kaleigh Tull, Raeli Miles and Rebecca Sawnepoel, and sophomore Jacee Durossette.

“Alissa, [in right field], will be the type of leader you go to for encouragement,” Snyder said. “With that encouragement, Russel will push her teammates to be the best they can possibly be to ultimately win ball games. We are looking forward to her positive leadership skills throughout the season. Juniors Riley Flippo, Kaleigh Tull, Piper King, Rebecca Swanepoel, Raeli Miles, Addison Keates and Addison Cotton have each shown huge commitment during off season open-gyms, clinics and any additional leagues offered.

“I have no doubts each listed above will push their teammates every practice and every game to ultimately become a better team. All the names listed above I have great expectations for, and I have no doubts they will rise to the occasion to lead the team this season.”

Tull was the No. 1 pitcher in 2023 and will continue the role this season, with sophomore Durossette and freshman Addyson Payne also seeing time in the circle.

“Kaleigh brings to the mound different variations of spins/speed, and most importantly, discipline,” Snyder said. “Last season, Jacee made appearances on the mound and at second base. Every time she made an appearance, she was dependable and brought energy when the team needed it most. Additionally, she offers various different spins and consistency we can depend on.

“Even though I have not seen Addy pitch a lot, she will be a great addition to the program. She is very hard worker and brings energy to the mound that we are looking forward to seeing more of this season.”

Behind the plate, Flippo will take over after playing previously at shortstop.

“We are excited to see her energy behind the plate while being a positive voice for the team,” Snyder said.

With only one senior on the squad, Southwest is looking to its junior seven for added leadership “Riley Flippo, Kaleigh Tull, Piper King, Rebecca Swanepoel, Raeli Miles, Addison Keates and Addison Cotton: Each one of these girls have showcased their leadership skills on and off the field, being individuals I can fully depend on to be encouraging on the field and, most importantly, push the rest of the team to work hard every day we step on the field,” Snyder said.

In the off-season, Snyder said the Lady Trojans have tweaked and improved their mechanics at the plate and in the field.

“We have a group of girls that consistently come to clinics, hitting leagues or open-gyms because they want to get better,” Snyder said. “The girls each have just shown hard work and dedication to this program. As mentioned last season, we are in the phase of rebuilding our program, and these girls are all putting in the work to become better athletes.”

To that end, consistent growth is the major goal this season.

“The expectation this season is to simply continue the consistent growth concerning skill-set and working together cohesively as a team,” Snyder said. “The Lady Trojans ultimately are ready for the ‘growing pains’ in order to win some ball games.

“Myself and Jonica Jones (Assistant Coach) are ultimately so ready for the season to begin and so blessed with a team that is ready and willing to work hard. Ultimately, we are really excited to work with this group of Lady Trojans and to win some ball games.”

The Lady Trojans are 3-3 this season after going 1-2 in the Verona Cheri Nash Memorial Tournament a loss to Exeter on the road, 14-4, a win over Billings at home, 22-21, and a win over against Blue Eye at home, 13-3.

Southwest played Miller on the road Monday and Galena at home Tuesday. The next game is set for Thursday at Wheaton at 5 p.m.

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