White River High’s fastpitch coach Joe Sprouse has high expectations.
“Barring any unforeseen disastrous circumstances, this year’s team is definitely talented enough to make it to the subdistricts at the end of the regular season,” he said.
Sprouse harkened back to an unlucky 2010 when the Hornets missed making the Class 3A subdistricts by one victory.
Another thing that White River has going for it, is that the Hornets will be one of the eight teams playing in the newly configured SPSL 2A, which will send the top half dozen crews in the standings to the subdistrict party.
“Top to bottom this year’s squad will be the best I have ever coached in my four years here,” stressed Sprouse. “The girls who are seniors in this year’s bunch were freshman when I took over as coach and they know how I want the T’s crossed and the I’s dotted.
“This entire team, from day one in practice, made it one of its goals to take this program to where it hasn’t been in 20 years. These gals want to go to the state tournament, because every other WRHS girls team sport has already done that this season.”
Sara Steinmetz is a proven seasoned mound veteran. The senior right hander has been involved in some big encounters in her time at WRHS.
“Steinmetz has become better and more savvy with each passing season,” said Sprouse. “She is experienced enough now, to know that pitching is more than just trying to blow batters away with a blazing fastball. She usually hits her spots and has enough weapons to set up hitters by constantly changing her pace.”
In the bullpen are sophomores Jessica Jackson and Austin Issacs. The true safety net for Steinmetz though, will be furnished by junior thrower Shai-Lee Hill, who logged a sufficient number of innings from the mound last year, to qualify as a capable back-up.
Sprouse is guessing that senior Brooke Paulson is nimble enough to make the transition from catcher to shortstop.
Even though the maroon and gold lost five starters to graduation last summer, he is blessed enough to be able to fill any existing voids with five more senior starters this season.
This bevy of tested veterans will include Lindsie Waldo, Jordynn Smith, Kelsey English and the foremost candidate to be patrolling one of the outfield pastures, Mariam Alavi. Alavi provided some of the material for the 2010 highlight reel last year, as she displayed some stellar glove work and stepped to the plate to belt some timely clutch hits, according to Sprouse.
Also in the starting lineup will be sophomore catcher Sammy Mitchell, who should provide some power, having hammered three round trippers last year.