Stretching through the struggles

70-percent of the Cedar Shoals junior varsity (JV) softball team members have never played softball before. To recruit enough players to fill a JV squad, varsity softball head coach Josh Campbell asked players to help recruit new students to join. 

“I’ve gone to both Hilsman and Coile,” Campbell said. “I’ve put up flyers at the recreational leagues at East Athens and asked people to spread the word about it.”

Campbell says that when you have inexperienced players, you have to really have to praise them for the little things so they keep coming back. 

“I would say finding the wins are the things they do well and then praising them for those is one,” Campbell said. “You just find those little small wins and then you just tell them.”

Because of this they have been able to have enough players to have a varsity and JV team. The JV softball team’s record stands at 2-7. 

There are 11 players on the JV team this year, four returning players and seven new players. The team continues to grow beyond just its size, as the community within the team advances, too. 

“I think we’ve grown as people. We’ve become more accepting and caring for each other,” freshman shortstop Savannah Rawls said. 

The team cheers on their teammates during their at-bats and while on base, motivating themselves from the dugout. Much of this enthusiasm comes from freshmen who are new to Cedar Shoals but not to the JV team. Catcher Devyn Capuozzo has 8 runs scored. Third baseman Caitlin Smith has a batting average of 0.353 and has had 6 hits. Rawls has had 5 RBI’s and 7 runs scored. 

“There are four players who played last year for Cedar that are on our team. They (Capuozzo, Smith and Rawls) are experienced and are the leaders of the group. They know some of the drills, they know some of the warmup routines,” junior varsity head coach Logan Garrett said. “They understand where to go, what to do, how it works, and are always willing and able to help. They have a positive relationship with the varsity players, which helps the new players and the eighth graders feel more comfortable.” 

For Garrett, creating a welcoming community within the team, and ensuring that her players are comfortable is a priority. 

“I think everybody’s really respectful of each other and the community can form kind of naturally as long as everyone is positive, respectful and encouraging,” Garrett said.

The team continues to develop and learn by experimenting with new methods and drills, creating fun memories for players.

“It’s fun to have new experiences together. I noticed that our team was really afraid of sliding. So instead of practicing on the gravel, I found a gymnastics mat. And we wet it down on a really hot day and we learned how to slide by getting wet and muddy and we got cooled off,” Garrett said.

Not only does Garrett think that this is a fun and enjoyable experience, but the players find it memorable as well. 

“The slip and slide mat was definitely a memorable experience because nobody was expecting sliding practice to turn out that way. It made practice more engaging and enjoyable since we were able to just let loose and have fun,” Smith said.

In addition to practices, the team also grows closer through team bonding activities like fun games or team dinners. 

“Yesterday, we ate American Deli in my classroom and just hung out and told stories and made fun of each other. Then we were able to go change and watch the varsity game,” Garrett said. “I feel like after that team dinner, even though we had a really tough loss, people were really supportive of each other.”

PRE-GAME RITUAL: Freshman Devyn Capuozzo puts eye black on teammates while they joke around in the dugout. The team feels like they get closer just by doing these little things. “Experiences like this can just bring the team together,” Garrett said.

All while forming new memories with each other and bonding, they still struggle sometimes as a team, whether that be not making good throws or not being ready to work hard at practice and games. 

“I think we struggle with the motivation to actually practice, and to work hard because sometimes it’s hard to get in the right mindset,” Smith said. 

Rawls views communication as the main problem. 

“I think it’s really communication and because I feel like everyone knows how to play. It’s just a matter of when you do what you’re supposed to do,” Rawls said.

Despite these struggles, the players and coaches still strive for improvement in their skills. 

“I’d love to win games but more so I just want to see our skill set grow so we want to be more consistent. When we hit the ball, we want to make good, solid contact,” Garrett said, “I want to grow our game IQ. It is something that takes a while to develop if you’ve never played before, and you don’t know the rules like drop third strike or infield fly or all the little tiny rules that you can only learn from experience.”

Katie Kulik

Freshman Katie Kulik is a new staff writer for Cedar BluePrints. After high school she wants to become involved in ministry and eventually become a youth pastor. She is currently involved in softball, swimming and tennis. Kulik’s favorite thing about journalism is being able to express herself.

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