NRHS girls hope to improve record

Published 10:52pm Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Nansemond River softball team returns a group of girls intent on turning the page to a winning future, and they will have the help of a strong freshman class.

Winning was an infrequent part of the 2012 campaign, when the Lady Warriors wound up 4-16 and failed to qualify for the district tournament.

Nansemond River freshman second baseman KateLynn Hodgkiss participates in a drill during a preseason practice on Thursday at Nansemond River High School.
Nansemond River freshman second baseman KateLynn Hodgkiss participates in a drill during a preseason practice on Thursday at Nansemond River High School.

Leading the charge this year will be head coach Gabe Rogers, who is an experienced softball coach, but is in the role at Nansemond River’s varsity level for the first time. Rogers is no stranger to the school, having helped to coach the Lady Warriors junior varsity softball team. After that, he branched out to another sport.

“I actually used to coach wrestling here, some years ago in the early 2000s,” he said.

Then, having two daughters brought him back to softball. He has coached travel ball for six years, for girls aged 12, 14 and 18. Through these opportunities, Rogers already had a good idea of the team he would be dealing with at Nansemond River.

“I know a lot of these young ladies outside of Nansemond River softball,” he said. “There’s a lot of talented young ladies out there.”

He expects this year’s group to be competitive and has no doubt that it will improve on last season’s record.

“We will improve on that,” he said. “We will win. I’m a firm believer in that. That’s the mindset that we’re going to have every time we step on the field, regardless of who steps on the field with us. Our mindset is not going to be, ‘Hey, let’s try to be competitive and hope that we play you guys well.’ We’re going to step on the field believing that we’re going to win that game. So, that’s why we work, that’s why we work hard, that’s why we practice hard.”

Rogers eschewed the notion of his team having a star player.

“At any point, they can all step up and contribute and be a star for the day,” he said. “But as far as an overall star, I’ve never believed in the overall star. I don’t want stars. I want team ballplayers.”

Senior pitcher/outfielder Sydney Glover is one of the players on the 2013 Nansemond River softball team whom head coach Gabe Rogers expects to provide leadership.
Senior pitcher/outfielder Sydney Glover is one of the players on the 2013 Nansemond River softball team whom head coach Gabe Rogers expects to provide leadership.

He explained that his team is “a role-player team … Everybody’s got a role that they’ve got to play. They’re very talented, and they all have different talents.”

He will, however, be counting on leadership from the team’s three returning seniors: Jazmine Card, Sydney Glover and Hope Mounie.

“They’re the ones that have been through the program for four years, some of them five years, (on junior varsity) as an eighth grader,” Rogers said. “They know what it takes to compete for a district title. They’re hungry for that district title, so the seniors will be the leaders.”

Mounie will play third base, and Rogers said Card may play second base some, “but she’s probably going to be looked upon to play outfield.”

Glover is a right-handed pitcher, but also may be playing more in the outfield.

Additionally, the team will benefit from the experience of returning juniors, catcher and second baseman Maddy-Grace Lavender and first baseman Jessie Rogers.

The upperclassmen will certainly not be expected to do everything, though.

“The entire freshmen class is very good,” Rogers said. “The foundation for a strong softball team in the upcoming future is there.”

He acknowledged the challenges posed by district opponents will be immense, as Great Bridge returns nearly the entire team that went to the state tournament last year, making it a favorite.

“Grassfield returns a lot of promising players, and that’s who we start our season off with,” Rogers said. “So if we can jump out very early, and if we can come out with a win in that game, that right there should kind of set the tone for the rest of the district to recognize that we’re going to be competitive.”

The Lady Warriors host Grassfield on March 12.

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