After winning two straight softball championship games, Hamilton’s softball team is looking for a “three-peat.”
Senior Madison Seigworth, who pitched in the championship round each of the last two seasons, said the team is just as motivated as ever to win.
“We definitely still want it just as much as we did in the past, and a lot of us are seniors, so that’s even more motivation to go out with a bang,” she said.
Though the Huskies lost four seniors to graduation from the 2017 roster that amassed a 30-6 record, most of the starters are returning, and many can be vocal leaders to show the new talents how to practice and win.
As much appreciation as this group has for past successes, senior Abby Anderson said it will take even more grit to get back to the top again, but the reward of a championship at the end of the season would prove worth the effort.
“We’ve worked hard over the last few years to develop the program, and we don’t want to lose it now,” she said. “It’s harder to keep it once you have it.”
Many of the girls play club softball together in the offseason and make the extra effort to get better together outside of practices, to train for the coming championship-or-bust season.
Whether they go out on a weekend to take batting practice together, or spend a few extra hours fielding groundballs, the girls appreciates each other’s company and they participate in friendly competition that helps them improve their skills. That includes the upperclassmen taking time to mentor the newer players and including them in team activities both on and off the field.
“I think a problem with a lot of high school teams is the difference between the older and younger girls, and that’s one thing that we try to focus on and get better at,” Anderson said.
Coach Rocky Parra also gets a class period each school day devoted to softball, so the girls are preparing year-round for when the season finally comes.
“It’s almost like we have to back them off here, because if we keep them going at that same pace we’re going to have sore arms or injuries,” he said.
The result of that extra work is as deep of a roster as Parra has had with the Huskies. While always boasting great hitting at the top of the lineup, the difference will be the lower spots in the lineup, where Hamilton should be as dangerous as any team in the state.
“I’ve probably got six or seven players that can step into those spots, so we’re not going to have slack at the end of the lineup,” he said. “In the past, we’ve always had decent hitters in there, but this year when I put our seven or eight hitters in there they’re going to be scary for pitchers as well.”
But the Huskies know they are not the only team regrouping and looking for glory in 2018.
Hamilton’s opponent in the last two state championship games, and a team that played to a 36-2 record in 2017, was Pinnacle High School, which itself brings back a talented roster.
As back-to-back defending champions, the Huskies know they will have a target on their backs and will get each team’s best shot every time they take the field. Pinnacle, though, is always a team that is in the back of the Huskies’ minds and provides a mark to measure progress by.
“They’re my favorite team to play because it’s always a good game. Extra innings, or a one-run game, it’s always tough when we play them,” Seigworth said.
Moving forward and attempting another state championship run, Parra said the talent is there to win any game Hamilton plays. With as much talent as the team boasts, it can be difficult to find something tangible to work toward in practice. Parra admitted there are no major flaws in the roster or his team’s skill set, but the key will be to tighten up and not beat themselves.
“Make the routine play, don’t make errors on the bases. Don’t give away any outs and take some away on offense. We’ve got to get to work,” he said.