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New season, but still plenty of power for the Spartans | SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW
Bainbridge may have a big target on its back, but so far this season, the Spartans have been the hunter and not the hunted.
The Bainbridge fastpitch softball team went undefeated during the regular season last year, and won the Metro League crown in convincing fashion.
Now, with a new season underway, Bainbridge is looking to repeat. And for the Spartans, it’s so far, so good.
Make that so far, so very, very good.
Bainbridge is 7-0 on the young season, and the Spartans have outscored the competition 68-13 so far.
Last week, the Spartans topped Nathan Hale 10-4 then held Bishop Blanchet scoreless across two back-to-back games; 9-0 on Tuesday and 12-0 Wednesday.
“Everything is slowly coming together,” Bainbridge Coach Liz McCloskey said after the Blanchet win.
The Spartans right now are where they were last year at this time: undefeated.
Still, the start of the season wasn’t exactly spectacular. Turnout this year was a bit of a surprise; just 22 girls came out.
“Not as many as I expected, but that’s OK. We’re going to make it work,” she said.
There were enough players to create a junior varsity team, which is crucial to the program, McCloskey added.
“It allows, essentially, for girls to get more innings in and more reps rather than sitting on a bench,” she said.
Bainbridge has had to shuffle the deck a bit this year. The Spartans lost three senior players, all starters, to graduation. Gone are the Spartans’ veterans at first and second base — starters since their freshman year — as well as a center fielder.
The changes have brought a bit of youth to the starting nine.
“We have a freshman who is taking over at first base, and a sophomore who is taking over at second,” McCloskey said.
Natalie Allen is now at first base, and Riley Gregoire, second.
Gregoire, however, already has a year on the varsity squad. She played in the outfield on last year’s championship team.
It’s a young team, overall, to be sure. Six players are ninth- or 10th-graders, and the Spartans boast just three seniors: pitcher Katie Raben, catcher Emily Schneider and Erin Kinney on third base.
Raben, of course, is last year’s Metro League MVP.
Raben, who no longer attends BHS but Crosspoint Academy, was stellar last year in the Spartans’ trek to their first-ever Metro title. She had a 9-0 regular season record, and finished with 70 strikeouts and a 1.69 earned-run average across 54 innings.
Kinney will continue to provide plenty of offense for the Spartans. She was an All-Mountain Division infielder who finished last year’s campaign at .580.
Her sister, Kate Kinney, started last year in the outfield.
The lineup also includes Alison Reichert, Carolyn Williams, Alexina Boudreaux-Allen, Emma Lindsay and Deahna King.
“Our three seniors are our captains, but I rely heavily on everyone,” McCloskey said.
“We’re a young team,” she said, adding that the Spartans have picked up some very powerful hitters.
“We have some freshman that have come in and have been able to fill that role, so it’s been kind of nice.”
McCloskey said another Metro title and a trip to the state tournament is not out of the realm of possibilities. Consistency is key.
“Honestly, just staying focused every day and believing in ourselves that we can do it.”
“We go into every game, no matter who we are playing, as if it’s the state championship game,” she said.