SHS softball: Successful summer turns to fearsome fall
FRISCO – The Summit High School softball team has dwindled to its core. But what a core.
The Tigers are down to 13 players this year – there is no junior varsity. But it’s a team that has been together for two years, and that includes two summer club seasons. As long as the Tigers can put nine on the field, they’re not worried.
“I’m disappointed that we don’t have a JV team,” said second-year coach Shelly Koehler, “but I’m excited about where we are with the varsity. The girls I do have are very strong, very solid.”
It’s a team that is coming off a summer club season during which it won a championship at the C level and dabbled in the B level with increasing success. All but three of the current high school team played summer ball.
“It helps a lot when you know what your teammates play, and where they play and how they play,” said Heather Kanski, a senior going into her second year as catcher.
But the summer season is over now, and along with it the lighter practice and game schedule. Softball is now a five-to-six-day-a-week proposition.
“It’s just a different realm,” Koehler said, “and the mindframe of the switch from summer to now is tough. The rigor is not as much there in the summer as it is in the school year.”
Especially not this year with the rock solid Jeffco League filling up the Tigers’ schedule. Like most SHS sports, the softball team moves from the Metro League, where it was one of the top two teams last year, to the ultra-competitive Jeffco League.
But the Tigers will try not to worry about the strength of the competition, at least not pitcher Kelsey Hodson.
“I’m just gonna work as hard as I can and do what I can,” she said. “I need to do what I need to do and I’ll just do it as hard as I can.”
Hodson is the only other senior on the team besides Kanski. She’s Summit’s only dominant pitcher, and she’s maturing into that role.
“I see improvement with her all the time, and it’s really with the mental part of the game,” Koehler said. “Her whole mental part of the game and the part she plays on the team has really stepped up. When you’re coming into your own and you really understand where you are and what you contribute, then it all starts to fall into place, and I’ve seen that over the summer.”
Behind Hodson, only two positions are question marks. Summit lost third baseman Rose Wasinger and outfielder Ashley Brandt to graduation. The rest of the defense returns intact.
That includes Shannon Buhler at shortstop, Kate Orlin at second, Megen Skulski at first and Kanski behind the plate. Mackenzie Voorhees, Amy Clark and Brittany Warner will play outfield. Koehler is looking at freshmen Ashley Peskar and/or Cissy Daniels to play third. Also, Brittany Ellsworth and Caitlin Schmidt will see time when they are able to join the team. Schmidt is fighting a bothersome knee, and Ellsworth has not yet had enough practice time to play a game.
Buhler and Hodson will hit in the three, four spots and should be the main RBI producers. The lead-off spot is up for grabs between Orlin, Clark and Skulski. Koehler has not yet determined the majority of the batting order.
The Tigers open the season at Lutheran on Thursday. Their first home game is Sept. 3 against Middle Park. League play begins with defending Jeffco champion Ralston Valley Sept. 10 in Arvada.
Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at email@example.com.
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