Times Sports Editor
There's something to be said for playing with a sense of urgency.
For five Northview seniors, this softball season will conclude their high school athletic careers and they are determined not to leave without the postseason success that has hung so tantalizingly close the past few years.
If a 9-0 loss to eventual state champion Martinsville wasn't bad enough in 2006, a 10-inning, 2-1 loss to eventual sectional champion Mooresville was just painful last spring.
According to coach Bethany Buell, her seniors are very conscious of this being their final go round.
"Our seniors have been telling me that this is their year," Buell said. "They've been great role models and I think this team is better all around. They've got great attitudes and they know it's their time. They've worked hard to keep the underclassmen on their toes."
The first question mark for the Knights is the pitching and catching.
The Knights graduated long-time battery, Stephanie Jonson, now a member of Indiana State's softball team, and catcher Kayla Raderstorf, who is playing for Rend Lake College.
What might seem a very big question mark is one to be answered by a group of players according to Buell.
"Katie Smith, Shelby Colson and Emily Phillips will all get some time," Buell said.
Smith, a junior, was 5-0 at the varsity level last year with a 1.60 ERA in six starts and 39 1/3 innings for the Knights. She struck out 35 batters, but will need to limit her walks after giving out 21 free passes. Colson got one start in 2007 and Phillips has proved to be very flexible in her roles during travel softball.
"These pitchers have been through a lot and have experience," commented Buell. "Emily has played a lot of different positions and that makes it easier on the coaches."
Buell also feels that one of the best characteristics of this team is greater versatility than in year's past.
"We've got some flexibility," Buell said. "That gives us some confidence and I think offensively and defensively we're deeper."
The other half of the battery looks to be filled by freshman, Jessica LaTourette.
Despite her overall youth, Buell mentioned that LaTourette is learning the varsity ropes quickly.
"The catcher is the leader of the infield," Buell commented. "The last two weeks Jessica has matured a lot. She's been more vocal to the infield and with the coaches. I think she'll be fine."
The hitting is sometimes the last to come around for a young player, but Buell was quick to quell any doubts about a lack of offense from the freshman.
"Offensively she'll be in the middle of the order," Buell said.
Defense will also be a strength for the Knights who return nearly the entire infield in senior first or third baseman, Erica Conrad, along with shortstop Traci Sanders and sophomore second baseman, Emily Phillips.
The Knights will obviously miss the bat of former third baseman Brittaney Searing, now with the Sycamores as well.
But offense shouldn't be a problem for Northview.
Sanders hit .482 last year and slugged .706 with 12 doubles, two triples and a homerun while driving in 20. Conrad hit at a .388 clip with 12 two-baggers and 23 RBI. Senior Lindsay Thomas returns in centerfield and hit .359 and tied Searing with a team-high 27 runs scored.
Smith hit .288 for the Knights and Kyler Clark returns in rightfield after hitting .250 with 15 runs scored.
Phillips made the most out of a .222 batting average, driving in 20 runs and stealing seven bases.
Erica Matson is a candidate to take over in leftfield along with Kirstin Kimball and Shelby Colson.
Senior Jonna Raderstorf returns this year and adds flexibility at catcher and third base and senior Danielle Brinson is back following an injury that ended her season prematurely last year.
Improved team speed will also give Northview more versatility on the bases and a large group of freshman have shown some promise during early practice as well.
Overall, the general feeling is that there is no reason that this can't be the year that the Knights claim a sectional title.
"As a coaching staff we've been trying to get more mentally tough by putting the girls in pressure situations," said Buell. "We've learned a lot from the last two years and this year we're not worried about anything but winning."
|Tue. April 1||vs. Martinsville||5 p.m.|
|Thur. April 3||at Linton||5 p.m.|
|Mon. April 7||at Bloomington South||5 p.m.|
|Tue. April 8||at Clay City||4:30 p.m.|
|Thur. April 10||vs. Shakamak||5 p.m.|
|Mon. April 14||at Plainfield||5 p.m.|
|Tue. April 15||vs. Sullivan||5 p.m.|
|Thur. April 17||vs. T.H. South||5 p.m.|
|Tue. April 22||at Brown County||6 p.m.|
|Thur. April 24||vs. Mooresville||5 p.m.|
|Fri. April 25||at Jasper Tourney||TBA|
|Sat. April 26||at Jasper Tourney||TBA|
|Tue. April 29||vs. West Vigo||5 p.m.|
|Thur. May 1||vs. Bloomington North||5 p.m.|
|Fri. May 2||vs. Edgewood||5 p.m.|
|Sat. May 3||Big Four Tourney||10 a.m.|
|Mon. May 5||vs. Riverton Parke||5 p.m.|
|Tue. May 6||at S.Vermillion||5 p.m.|
|Wed. May 7||at N.Central||5 p.m.|
|Fri. May 9||vs. Owen Valley||5 p.m.|
|Sat. May 10||at. Turkey Run (DH)||11 a.m.|
|Wed. May 14||vs. T.H. North||5 p.m.|
|Sat. May 17||at Castle Tourney||10 a.m.|
|Mon. May 19||Sectional at Martinsville||TBA|