Softball team looking for a strong finish this season
On the surface, Catasauqua's softball program might appear to be in a state of disarray with their 7-7 record to begin play this week.
It has been an unaccustomed start for the Roughies' program that has been among the Lehigh Valley's finest the past few years as they have been league and district frontrunners with rosters compiled with a horde of talented players.
Still, head coach Bobby Thomas isn't overly concerned. Instead, he has watched his club undergo a transition with an influx of new players and first-year starters who have replaced a core that helped transform the program over the past few years.
"We knew we would have a transition, but it turned out to be bigger than we anticipated," said Thomas. "We have a number of new girls in a number of spots. It has been difficult at times. But we are starting to see some more progress."
Thomas believes the team's lack of sufficient practice time due to a litany of late winter storms deterred his team's progress in the early going.
"We were in the same boat as everybody else," he said. "But with the number of young girls we have, we needed to practice. We were making too many mental mistakes and not playing as well as we could defensively.
"We weren't able to work on the parts of the game we really needed to tighten."
With a lighter schedule this week, Thomas already has seen some changes.
"We had a good practice (Tuesday)," he stressed. "We can go over some things for a few days and that will help. It is a matter of practicing more and having the younger girls and first-year starters gaining more confidence and forming some more chemistry with the older girls."
Thomas has been impressed with freshman pitcher Alexia Reichl, who has developed and formed a formidable one-two punch on the mound with senior Alexi Ayache.
Sophomore Shannon Gallagher, who began the season behind the plate, since has moved to the infield, and freshman Emma Belfield, who once loomed as the starting catcher, has now moved into the role.
"Emma (Belfield) is coming along," said Thomas. "We explained to her that she would experience a number of things pretty quickly. We told her that before the season. But she has been adjusting to everything."
With a handful of veterans and a number of budding players, Thomas expects his team to be in the hunt down the stretch. He pointed out how the Colonial League has expanded its playoff field to six teams.
The Roughies traveled to Pius Wednesday and then will host Notre Dame Friday and Palmerton Sunday.
"We will be right there," he said. "With the league adding two more teams, it helps. But there are a number of teams looking to get into the playoffs and some are in similar situation like us.
"We do have the confidence to turn this around and finish the season strong."