Young team looks forward to season

Published 6:58 pm Saturday, March 16, 2013

Last year, for the final spring sports season that Suffolk Christian Academy went by the name of First Baptist Christian School, it did not have a softball team.

Suffolk Christian Academy's McKayla West practices at the catcher position at Peanut Park on Friday in preparation for the coming softball season.

Suffolk Christian Academy’s McKayla West practices at the catcher position at Peanut Park on Friday in preparation for the coming softball season.

“A lot of the girls that were there before had graduated, and there wasn’t that much of an interest in the team,” head coach Robbie Lester said. “This year, the interest built back up and they pretty much had enough girls that would participate.”

Lester is essentially starting the program from scratch, though he has coached some of the same girls outside of school ball.

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The roster is composed of 12 players with a wide range in age. At the team’s oldest, it has three juniors and at its youngest, it has one-sixth grader.

Similar to the girls’ soccer team at SCA, the softball team will be playing both a junior varsity and varsity schedule. The JV games will feature more of the younger players while the varsity games will give opportunities for the older players.

All 12 players will travel to each, however, and fill roles outside of being an on-field player. Varsity games will allow the younger players to watch and learn. The JV games will afford a unique experience for the others.

“I’ve told the older girls that, part of the time, they will be coaching bases and helping with the younger girls as far as teaching them the game,” Lester said.

The team is filled with youth, as only four players are of varsity age. Lester will be relying upon juniors Hannah Fagan and Caitlin Hankins and sophomore Kelly Lester.

“They played when First Baptist had a team before,” he said. “They’re really the only girls that I have that have experience.”

Fagan will be a key factor for the Lady Knights on the mound.

“Hannah, right now, is our starting pitcher, and she can play anywhere else on the field I put her,” he said, excepting the catcher position.

Hankins will also provide versatility.

“She’s our starting first baseman, but she’s also catching and she can do other infield positions,” Lester said.

Lester said that his daughter, Kelly, “used to be a second baseman, but I think she’s going to be either starting at shortstop or third, depending on how the other girls develop within the next week.”

These three girls, who are team captains, have already stepped up in the preseason and shown their worthiness of the title.

“(Fagan) has done an outstanding job at working with the younger girls, trying to get develop more pitching,” Lester said. “Kelly and Caitlin, they have been helping out with practices as far as instructing the infielders, showing them techniques and showing them positions that they should be in,” he said.

Facing the plight of constructing a new program with a short preseason, Lester expressed regret that the team captains have been acting as coaches, and he has not yet been able to help them develop further as players.

Nevertheless, they have been able to grow in other ways that will benefit the team and them personally as they move forward in life.

The Lady Knights will open their season on Tuesday against Isle of Wight Academy.