Young Hays High softball team looking to make strides
With a roster comprised almost entirely of first-year varsity players, Hays High softball coach Erin Wagner knows there will be some growing pains for her young squad.
But after missing out on a year of development with the cancellation of last year's season, the Indians are finally getting a chance to get acclimated to high school softball.
Hays High sits 2-3 on the season with all three losses coming to Dodge City. The Indians took 7-0 and 9-6 losses to the Red Demons on Thursday at Bickle-Schmidt Sports Complex.
One senior, three juniors, six sophomores and three freshmen saw action during the twinbill on Thursday.
"The girls, most of them play in the summer, but it's a little bit of a different atmosphere when you have 14-year-olds playing against 18-year-olds," Wagner said. "Plus, these girls have never played together.
"We're early in the season and I hope we continue to build on it."
Junior Brenna Schwien is Hays High's only player with varsity experience, having seen action as a designated player two years ago. Schwien was the only upperclassmen in the starting lineup in Game 1, joined by three freshman and six sophomores.
"Essentially, we're freshmen," Wagner said. "We have sophomores, but they never got their freshman year. So a lot of those lessons you learn as a freshman, they didn't get. So they're still having to get through those, while the other freshmen are learning too.
"It's good that we play a lot of games because they'll get experience quick, and hopefully we learn from it quickly as well."
The Indians were no-hit by Dodge City's Raimie Lopp in Game 1. The Indians had three baserunners, drawing one walk with two batters hit by pitches.
Hays High also saw Lopp on Tuesday in a 6-1 loss at Dodge City.
"Raimie does a nice job in the circle," Wagner said. "Coming off of the game on Tuesday, I think we took some better hacks today than we did then, so I think that's a positive thing to see. Again, we are young, so I hope we can continue to build on what we're seeing today and improve on our offense and get some hits to fall."
Hays High committed three errors in the first game, leading to four Dodge City runs.
"One of the things we talk about is not giving them anything and always taking advantage of what they give us," Wagner said. "Unfortunately, we were the one giving them more than what they deserved.
"We just got to cut down on those mistakes. I think part of that is our youth, but as the season progresses I'm hoping we see improvements in that."
The Indians found success against a new pitcher in the second game. They put up four runs in the bottom of the first, thanks to back-to-back two-run doubles by Raegan Winter and Elle Dreiling.
After Dodge plated two runs in the top of the second, Hays answered back with two more in the bottom of the frame. Schwien had an RBI double and Morgen Berry scored on an error.
But the Indians' bats cooled off once Dodge brought Lopp in the circle to start the third inning.
"When the first pitcher was in, we looked confident coming to the plate," Wagner said. "After Raimie came back into the game, we walked a little more cautiously to the plate. As I told them, there's nothing to be intimidated about. We take our hacks, we'll make connections and the ball eventually will fall."
Hays led 6-5 after five innings before Dodge City took control with four runs in the top of the sixth, highlighted by a three-run home run by Taryn Coon.
Schwien and Winter each had two hits for Hays High.
Freshman Aubree Thomas pitched both games for the Indians.
"Aubree's a workhorse," Wagner said. "She always takes what I give her and never questions. If I ask her, 'What pitch are you feeling?' She's like, 'Whatever you call, coach.'
"I've got a lot of confidence in Aubrie."
The Indians will play host to Garden City for a doubleheader at 4 p.m. Tuesday.