Jacie Higar throws a pitch in a practice drill.
By BLAKE FAITH
The Mt. Zion softball team is ready for its first normal season since 2019. This years’ team’s goal is to win the Apollo Conference and possibly a regional title.
In 2020, the Braves’ softball season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the Braves had six practices before taking the field for the first game of the season.
“I think we did a good job of getting things built, and teaching things that we need to teach them,” Head coach Greg Blakey said. “We were a young group last year and we needed to be able to teach things and these are things we didn’t get done as soon as we normally did. This year is more of a normal year where you can do some more fundamental work God before we start games.”
During this offseason, the Braves worked on their speed. The program was called feed the cats and focused on building speed and fitness.
Coach Blakey expects his four seniors in Lauren Waller, Sierra Hiser, Gwen Bender and Jacie Higar to have big impacts on the season. Coach Blakey also impacts big impacts out of pitcher Dakota Harrison on the mound and on the plate along with pitcher Kennedy Highley who will also play centerfield and is predicted to have a breakout junior season.
Waller threw 26 strikeouts last season and recorded a .353 batting average, 18 hits and six RBIs. Waller’s individual goal is to to continue to get better until college season and team goal is to win some games. Waller wants to be remembered after her time in the program as a positive impact player who always gave 100 percent.
Hiser recorded a .247 batting average, 21 hits and 13 RBIs. Hiser’s individual goal is to make all-conference first or second team after being close last season. Hiser wants to be remembered after her time in the program as a hard-worker and team player.
“I really think that’s an important aspect for a team is just being a team player,” Hiser said.
Bender recorded a .390 batting average, 39 hits, one home-run and 38 RBIs. Bender’s individual goal is to make the all-state team and her team goal is to win the conference and go far in the postseason. Bender wants to be remembered after her time in the program as positive energy on and off the field, but also kept practice going, but had fun doing it.
Higar’s individual goal is to get faster and stronger and her team goal is to get to state. Higar wants to be remembered after her time in the program as a good team member.
For the seniors, Coach Blakey said they’ve done a good job early this season and have been more vocal already than their junior year. That they’ve just been good vocal leaders who have set the example.
Coach Blakey wants his overall message to readers and the community is that this team will be known as the team that plays hard. The trams’ favorite quote is from former Oregon runner Steve Prefontaime. That quote is “Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it.”
“So it’s the same type of thing,” Coach Blakey said. “People have to have worked really hard to beat us is kind of my goal.”
The Mt. Zion softball team begins its season on the road against Maroa-Forsyth on March 24 at 4:30 p.m.