Padgett envisions Liberty softball team challenging for Evergreen District title
Friday, Mar. 15
Ace pitcher Taylor Davidson and the Liberty Eagles could contend in a balanced Evergreen District. --Photo by Adam Goings
What elements are needed to become a winning team?
Besides talent, a squad's chemistry always concerns a coach, who wonders how his players will interact with each other and their coaches over a three-month campaign filled with inevitable ups and downs.
"This a drama-free group," Liberty coach Charlie Padgett said in evaluating his 2013 Eagle softball squad. "They are supportive of their teammates in practice and game situations. That's a huge factor," he said.
Considering the balanced look of the Evergreen District, Liberty should be in the thick of this year's championship race. On paper, four of the five schools appear capable of bringing home the trophy.
"The first thing is the girls want to win the county championship," coach Padgett said, pointing to the intra-county games against Kettle Run and Fauquier.
Each school will play the other two on a home-and-home basis. Those four games all count in the district standings.
"For Kettle Run, [Kaitlyn] Munda is a decent pitcher, and they have some other good players," Padgett said.
"Fauquier – it's a game whenever we play. It doesn't matter who has won before or who has lost.
"It's always an emotional game for us," the Eagle coach said.
While local bragging rights are nice, the ultimate goal for teams is the district crown.
"It's a motivating factor for the girls," Padgett agreed.
Eagle Taylor Davidson and Munda are the top returning pitchers in the league, so Liberty will be solid on the mound.
Davidson, a junior, registered an earned run average of 1.47 last spring. She struck out 91 batters in 61 innings of work.
The remainder of the 14-girl squad is a mix of veterans and newcomers.
Sadie Rynestad hit .431 on her way to first-team all-district honors in the outfield. Shortstop Leslie Bourgeois recorded a .426 average to go with seven doubles, a triple, one home run and eight RBIs.
Other outfielders are Grace Pierce, Sydney White, Lynsey Miller and Anna Sunderlin.
Emily Fitzwater returns at first, with freshmen Jerrin Garnett and Allison Croushorn in reserve.
Diane McDaniel currently is sidelined by injury, so Beth Sheehan and Miller are getting time at second base.
Croushorn played third in a recent scrimmage, while Kayla Nelson and MacKenzie Booth are the catchers.
Garnett is the probable backup pitcher behind Davidson.
Miller and Sunderlin also may pitch.
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