Skyline High School Softball: Ready to Move on Up
Apr 07, 2016 01:00PM
● By Sarah Almond
By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
Cottonwood - Holladay - Two months ago, Russ Jessop had no idea he would soon be head coach of Skyline High School’s girls softball team. But after the previous coach resigned for personal reasons, Jessop stepped up to the plate.
“I was one of the assistants, and my daughter is on the team, and I didn’t want to leave them hanging,” Jessop said. “I talked to the administration, and it just kind of seemed like a natural fit.”
Along with a new coach, the Eagles had to do some serious recruiting within the school to convince girls to come out for the team.
“We graduated eight seniors last year, and a lot of the girls weren’t coming back for one reason or another,” Jessop said. “So we had to go out and get them. We had to talk to them about fun and that sort of thing.”
Jessop was successful in his recruiting efforts, getting around a dozen players to join the team. All in all, the Eagles have 18 girls on their 2016 team and only six who have experience playing softball.
“We’re having a lot of fun this year,” sophomore Barrett Jessop said. “It’s been great to watch the more inexperienced girls learn and watch their faces light up when they hit a ball into the outfield. I was really happy to see how many new girls game out to tryouts.”
Coach Jeppson elaborated.
“This is definitely a rebuilding year for us,” he said. “So we are teaching how to throw, teaching how to catch, teaching how to hold a bat, and I told them at the beginning of the season that we are going for fun and the teaching and learning will follow. But our goal is to win more games than last year.”
Even with a core group of senior players, the Eagles managed to win only three games last season.
“We totally underachieved last year,” Jessop said. “Our goals this year are lofty, but with the progression I’m seeing this year I don’t see any reason why we can’t make them happen.”
The girls have worked extremely hard to get past the fundamental phase of training and are starting to see their practice pay off.
“We have quite a few girls who have just started softball, and they are improving by leaps and bounds,” senior Ivy Reid said. “They are soaking up everything we are saying, and the improvement is apparent after each practice.”
Though the Eagles lost their first game 15-0, Jessop was pleased with the amount of strikes, runs and catches the girls were able to complete. He was also happy with the leadership he saw from many of his players.
“We only made three or four errors during our first game, so that was pretty good,” Jessop said. “I only have two seniors on the team this year, and I saw good leadership from them.”
Along with the two seniors, the team has four juniors, and the rest are sophomores and freshmen.
“We have a very young team,” Jessop said. “But I set expectations up front: We are going to learn, we are going to teach, and we’ll start with smaller goals and work our way up. The girls really seem to be buying into that.”
The Eagles play their last home game against rival high school Olympus on May 10 at 3:30 p.m.