With over 20 games in just over a month’s time on the schedule, Nodaway Valley softball is taking the approach that softball is a sprint, not a marathon like other sports seasons are.
That being said, the Wolverines hope to be able to slow down enough to grow together as the season goes along. They want to make positive memories and positive strides each night out on the diamond under first time high school co-head coaches Brian Eisbach and Ryan Zenor.
The pair has coached many of these girls at lower levels of the game. While they’re new to high school softball, they’re not to the game or many of the girls on the roster. There are good numbers in the program, thanks to several girls coming back out who haven’t played in awhile.
“We have about 20 kids right now — we’re going to shoot for 13 varsity, 13 JV, and some will suit both — and we’ve had some high energy practices,” Eisbach said. “I’m looking forward to getting things started.”
The Wolverines traveled Tuesday for their season opener at Greene County, then face a road trip Thursday to Southwest Valley and one Friday to Wayne. They do so with bats like Izzy Eisbach (.525 a year ago), Jorja Holliday (.450) and Lindsey Davis (.383) returning.
At the plate, the coaches want their team to be aggressive.
“We’ve asked the girls that when you step onto the mound, the first thing you want to do is throw a strike, right? Why not, as a hitter, hit that first-pitch strike and be aggressive,” Zenor said. “As far as base running. You look at our track talent and we’ve got speed. We told the girls that if we tell you to run, run. If you get thrown out, that’s 100% on us, but we’re not going to hide that we’re going to be aggressive.”
In the pitcher’s circle, Holliday (2.69 ERA with 107 strikeouts last season) likely will log the most innings. With at least four pitches in her repertoire, she has the ability to be a very effective field general. She also has a strong knowledge of the game that will benefit the team.
Softball is Holliday’s favorite sport, and coaches indicated several of the players came out knowing how much Holliday loves softball. Freshman Lea Stonebraker may get some innings of pitching at the varsity level, too.
“Softball is Jorja’s thing and she wants to play after high school. That’s a true testament to the kind of kid she is,” Eisbach said. “Jorja’s a special athlete and it will be good having her. She brings it at about 63 mph and has four comfortable pitches.”
Around the diamond fielding, some players will be in the same position they’ve always been in, while others may explore other positions because coaches see traits or skills in them they haven’t yet seen in themselves.
The coaches feel they feed well off of each other and have a good working relationship already established. Instead of each of them having an area of focus, they plan to coach together in all aspects and support each other in their decision making.
With recent success in girls basketball, track and field, and even growing momentum in volleyball, the coaches are excited to try to build on that this summer on the softball field. Their goal is to play hard and have fun, but hopefully win some games in the process.
“I’m very proud that you look at our weight room and it’s 5-to-1 girls to boys. When you have kids who are willing to show up and put that kind of work in, this is easy and this is fun,” Eisbach said. “Let’s go out [and see what we can do]. Win or lose, the goal is to be better in June than we are right now. We’re going to make some mistakes, the kids are going to make mistakes, but the goal is to play hard, have fun, and we’re looking forward to it.”