New attitude to start new season

Published 9:43 pm Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A new team with a new attitude will debut Wednesday when the Nansemond River High softball team begins a new season with a key Southeastern District game at Western Branch. The host Bruins are the defending district tournament champions, but first-year Warriors coach Tim Tarafas said he’s more concerned with his squad and how its players interact with each other than how they stack up against a formidable foe.

“There are three goals we’ve come in with,” Tarafas said of himself and assistant coach Andy Cain. “The first is to restore Nansemond River pride, the second is to have them play as a team and the third is to have them talk to each other instead of about each other.”

Last season’s path to a 10-9 overall record and a 10-8 district mark wasn’t all smooth. The Warriors lost a play-in game to city rival King’s Fork that kept them out of the four-team district tournament and the setback stung a little more given it was the third of the season at the Bulldogs’ hands. Tarafas hopes such experience toughened the resolve of Nansemond River’s six returning starters.

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Chief among them is senior pitcher Jenna Bryant, who will be the Warriors’ top hurler, followed by Meghan Folden and Rachel Hawks. Tarafas said he’s noticed a new look of determination to Bryant this season and that “we could do really well if she does well.”

Another key returning starter is senior catcher Anna Cain. Although Nansemond River lost talented backstop Stacey Dorn to graduation, Cain is moving behind the plate from third base and draws rave reviews from Tarafas.

“She moves like a cat back there and she’s got a cannon for an arm,” the coach said. “I leave the pitch calling to her and she runs the game. She’s our field general.”

Other Warriors shifting positions include last season’s shortstop platoon of Kayla Coburn and Alex Kaiser, who are now at second and third base respectively. Stephanie Tarafas moves from center field to shortstop and Jocelyn Ward moves from left field to center field.

Janell Green and Ashley Davenport are also likely to start in the outfield and Hawks and Rachel Henderson will share time at first base. Loren Daubenspeck can play catcher and third base.

If nothing else, Tarafas has a head start on scouting district rivals. After five years coaching in the Chesapeake Lady Thunder club program, he has current or former players at Western Branch, Grassfield and Hickory, which won a state title last year. Most importantly, however, Tarafas is encouraging his players to have fun.

“Good attitudes are infectious so we try to keep the good ones going and put bad ones aside,” he said.