West Forsyth softball looks for promising season
Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 4, 2019
By Marc Pruitt
For the Clemmons Courier
The West Forsyth softball has plenty of reason for optimism this season.
The Titans were 11-2 heading into this week’s games, including a 3-0 mark in Central Piedmont 4-A Conference play, with wins against league stalwarts East Forsyth, Davie, and Reagan already behind them.
Coach Kevin Baity returns most of his team from last season’s group that finished 20-7 and advanced to the third round of the NCHSAA 4-A state playoffs.
“We’ve got four seniors, two of which were starters on our state championship team in 2016,” Baity said. “I think that experience has a lot to do with why this group has been so successful. They learned a lot from that team in 2016, which was one of the best we’ve had as far as teaching them how to be leaders and how to make our underclassmen feel welcome. And having most of our defensive positions back is a big help, so our experience in general will be a real strength.”
Senior second baseman Brianna Lucero and senior centerfielder Sydney Joyner started as freshmen on the state title team and have anchored the Titans since.
Senior Pitcher Alex Rodriguez, who will play softball at UNC Greensboro, is in her third year on the mound.
Another senior, Mollie Runge, is one of the fastest players on the team and had a sister play on the state championship team.
“I think our biggest strengths for this team is that we have a lot of power and a lot of speed,” Baity said. “We’ve got more power in the lineup, from top to bottom, that we have had in some time. We have several players who are very strong and are capable of getting us one or two runs really quick.”
A couple of those power hitters are freshmen. Caroline Johnson and Emily Mutter are already wreaking havoc on opposing pitchers. Sophomore Jessica Martin leads the team in home runs and RBIs at this point of the season.
“Sydney (Joyner) already has hit a couple and Samantha Martin, Jessica’s sister has too,” Baity said. “We have players all over the lineup who are capable of hitting home runs.”
Baity praised the roles that Lucero and Joyner have taken on throughout their careers, which have included both changing positions.
“We’ve asked both of them to do different things for us along the way,” Baity said. “Sydney was our starting third baseman on the state championship team but has since moved to centerfield. We felt like we needed someone there who can make all the plays. She’s great as an infielder, and she’s even better in the outfield. She just kind of glides along out there an makes it look easy. Our team has definitely benefitted from that.”
Lucero has moved from the outfield to the infield since her freshman year and has settled in at second base.
“She just doesn’t make mistakes,” Baity said. “She’s also our No. 2 hitter and hasn’t struck out yet this season. She always puts the ball in play and is really fast.”
Rodriguez has settled in on the mound as she has gained experience.
“She has gotten a lot more confident as she has gotten older,” Baity said.” “She has really adjusted well after her first year on the varsity team as a sophomore, which was a down year for us because we graduated seven seniors from that state championship team. Since then, she has really settled in.”
Baity said that the Titans will face the biggest competition from Davie, East, and Glenn in the conference race, and that Reagan and Reynolds also have the capability of winning any night out.
“There isn’t a team in our conference that isn’t capable of giving us a tough night,” Baity said. “Any of them could be us on a given night. I think our conference looks a lot like our baseball conference this season with all these really good teams.”
Baity joked that he couldn’t remember how many years he has been coaching softball, but knows he has another solid team with a lot of potential.
“My first year coaching was the last year they did slow pitch,” Baity said with a laugh. “This team is different than most any other team I’ve had as far as our strengths and experience, but it’s a team that is capable of doing some great things. It’s a great group of kids who standout on the field and in the classroom, which I’ve always been fortunate enough to have at West Forsyth.”
West Forsyth softball 2019