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Fielding a winner

Posted Jan 26, 2017 at 10:16 PM

By Pat McCannThe News Herald

 

Gulf Coast softball coach Beth Wade noted that the Lady Commodores had the second-highest fielding percentage in the country during her second year at the helm.

 

They also improved drastically to a 34-18 record and state tournament berth.

 

Add a little more depth in the pitching circle, a little more flexibility with being able to field varied lineups and more overall team speed and Wade is beginning to develop a blueprint for success.

 

Gulf Coast will begin to find out how that translates into wins and losses beginning this weekend in Clearwater. The Lady Commodores play two games today and two more on Saturday to christen their regular season.

 

"Yeah, I like this group a lot," Wade said at midweek. "We're very versatile and can put a lot of different lineups together. We've got good balance offensively and defensively and the pitching staff is deeper."

 

The latter was almost a necessity with workhorse Alison Mitts having departed. Mitts not only was third in the state with 219 innings pitched but fifth in strikeouts with 175 and fourth in wins with 28.

 

Sophomore holdover Payton Carpenter and freshmen Kristina Manthei and Brittany Lee will remain in the circle as long as they are healthy.

The Lady Commodores also lost Keala Cordeiro who was second in the state in slugging percentage and third in home runs (18) and runs batted in

(79). In addition, departed leadoff batter Eloise Tribolet hit well over .400 and stole 52 bases.

 

"Obviously we're going to miss Tribolet and don't have anyone who is going to steal 50some bases, but overall throughout the lineup I would say we have more speed," Wade said.

 

"Last year we had a very good fielding percentage as a team, second in the country, and I expect us to be right there. If we're healthy I like our defense a lot. We harp on that here. We want to be fundamentally sound defensively. That's what keeps you consistent."

 

Wade expects power to come from Carpenter and Payton Burton, and Kynadi Tipler also is capable in the middle of the order.

Annsley Brown and Bailey Burk will be allowed freedom on the basepaths, and Jenna Ewing and Alexis Marchozzi will steal some bases.

"It's going to be a mix with some freshmen starting," Wade said. "I anticipate at least four, without considering the pitching spot. But that's pretty typical."

 

The Lady Commodores open with Indian River today at noon CST and play St. Petersburg at 4:20 p.m. The opponents on Saturday are Hillsborough

and Daytona State.

 

"I think early on we're going to see a few different lineups because we're a little deeper," Wade said. "We'll see who performs and try a lot of kids at different positions. The lineup is always evolving because whoever is hitting is going to play.

 

"I don't really know, but I think this team is going to be a little better in all aspects. We'll just have to see, but I do think the potential is there to be better in all aspects."

                                                                       

 

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