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Experience key as DHS returns 8 starters for ‘13

Jonathan Menard -   Feb 28, 2013

Destrehan freshman Krista Robles fires the ball to first for an out during the Lady Wildcats’ 10-4 loss to Live Oak on Saturday.
Destrehan freshman Krista Robles fires the ball to first for an out during the Lady Wildcats’ 10-4 loss to Live Oak on Saturday.

Coming off of their first playoff appearance in years, the Destrehan softball team is poised to make a deep run this season with the return of eight starters who were all named to the all-district squad last season.

Five of those starters were named to the 1st team last year, including senior pitcher Abbie Hall, who went 10-8 with 62 strikeouts and had an ERA of 2.35. Twin sisters Nicole and Michelle Haydel, who both batted over .400 last year, return to anchor the infield while fellow senior Ashley Bolin is dangerous from the plate, with six doubles and three home runs in 2012. Bolin will also be called upon to pitch this season, which gives Destrehan head coach Kenny Montz a rarity in high school softball – two pitchers that he feels have equal ability.

"It is very important for us to have Abbie, who has pitched for three years for us. I’ve watched her grow since she was a sophomore in confidence, ability and maturity," Montz said. "I am just as confident in Ashley’s ability, so we have two pitchers that we feel really good about."

Destrehan’s catching position is also in good hands with the return of two-year starter and 2nd team all-district player Anna Hall. Anna, a junior, finished last season with eight doubles, 22 RBIs and a batting average of .389.

Juniors Bailee Hurm and Gabby Marks, who were also named all-district last season, will patrol the outfield. Hurm batted .239 last season while Marks hit .233 with two doubles and eight RBIs. Montz said that juniors Alexis Kennedy and Olivia Goloforo, along with freshmen Taylor Lucich, Raion White, Amanda McNaughton and Reagan Pfister will add depth in the outfield.

Senior Bethany Sarabia, a second team all-district selection, will start at first base.

Montz expects a lot from this team due to returning experience at almost every position on the field.

"A majority of the players on this team have been at least two-year starters and I am hoping the experience the girls had in the playoffs will carry us through the season," he said. "They understand what we are doing and they know what it takes to be successful."

The Lady Wildcats began the season with victories over Assumption and Morgan City before falling to Live Oak, 10-4, on Saturday. Montz said that the biggest hurdle his team faces is learning how to put teams away and battle for a full seven innings.

"The first two games we jumped out to early leads and then hit a wall in the middle," he said. "We let the other teams hang around before we turned it around again."

Against Live Oak, Montz said it was the little things that got in his team’s way of a victory.

"We made an error here and the ball found a hole there," he said. "After trailing 6-1, we battled back to make it 6-4, but then Live Oak put us away. That goes back to not playing a full seven innings at the level we need to play at."

Montz said one of the team’s main goals this season is to cut down on strikeouts, which was a problem that plagued his squad last year.

"From last year to this year our focus is to put the ball in play. We need to cut down on strike outs and put pressure on the defense," he said. "In our two wins this season, we had three strike outs. Against Live Oak, we struck out 10 times. That’s an area where we need to improve."

After taking part in this weekend’s St. Amant tournament, the Lady Wildcats will return home to host St. Scholastica Academy on March 5. The game is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.

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