Hillcrest Huskies Swing for Success
Apr 07, 2016 02:34PM
● By Sarah Almond
By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
Midvale - The Hillcrest High School softball team might be young, but players are satisfied with the progression of the group’s skills and camaraderie.
“I’m really enjoying the team so far because we have a lot of new girls,” junior Emalee Egelund said. “We’re seeing a lot of young talent and that’s exciting because they’ll only progress as we go along. And [it’s] always fun to see girls learning and growing — I love it.”
The Huskies graduated five key infield players last year, leaving the team with just four seniors to lead the team this season. Thankfully, however, the group had the biggest tryout attendance in team history and, along with several new faces, brought back eight returning players who’ve had varsity experience.
“We had 56 girls show up for tryouts, which is the most we’ve ever had,” Scott Carrell, head coach for the Huskies, said. “It was a good problem to have. It was bad because we had to cut 26, but it was good because it enabled us to have a sophomore team. This is the first year we’ve ever had three teams.”
One of the Huskies’ senior leaders, Madison Lawrence, is thrilled to see the team’s growing success during her final year at Hillcrest.
“It’s been great helping them understand how awesome the sport of softball really is,” Lawrence said. “It’s such a fun game. Once you start getting around it and you get some experience, and then you start playing, you get addicted to it.”
Lawrence has played softball for over a decade, making her one of the most experienced players on the team. For many of the Huskies’ players, the 2016 season is their first time ever being involved in the sport.
“It took us a little bit to get used to each other, but we’ve got a great group of girls and a very minimal amount of drama,” Lawrence said.
“All of the girls are really willing to learn,” she said. “Even though most of them haven’t played before, all of them are willing to take advice from older girls or coaches, and I really love that.”
With a schedule that has the Huskies playing up to four games a week, the team is gunning to get in as much practice time as possible in order to prepare for the grueling season.
“Every day we don’t have a game, we’ll put in about two, two and a half hours of practice,” Carrell said. “We’re just trying to get in as many reps as we can.”
The team had just three days after tryouts to prepare and practice for their first game against rival high school Brighton.
“We’ve got some great leadership this season,” Carrell said. “We’ve got some good returners that have a lot of experience, which will help us.”
Despite the disadvantages that come along with a young team, Carrell is pleased with the progress many of the team’s rookies have made.
“The youth is going to be our biggest disadvantage. You know, a lot of the girls at Hillcrest don’t even start playing softball until ninth grade,” Carrell said. “Even though we’ve got a lot of young girls, they are developing pretty quick. They are learning, they want to be here and they want to get better.”
Carrell, who’s been coaching at Hillcrest for three years, knows what it takes to develop a new, young team.
“You know, we only have a few weeks to fill the gap and get these girls up to speed,” Carrell said. “So we really focus on fundamentals. We hammer those basic fundamentals in and that usually gets them to where they need to be.”
Despite not having experience on the softball field, most of the girls on the Huskies’ team are actively involved in other sports at Hillcrest High School, such as volleyball and track.
“We have a lot of speed on our team this year,” Carrell said. “A lot of younger girls have quick feet and I think that’s going to really benefit us this year.”
The Huskies play their final home game against Murray High School on May 5 at 3:30 p.m.