Lady Warriors must follow success

Published 11:11 pm Friday, March 7, 2014

Nansemond River High School sophomore pitcher Lauren Maddrey will return to the circle this year after a successful inaugural season with the Lady Warriors.

Nansemond River High School sophomore pitcher Lauren Maddrey will return to the circle this year after a successful inaugural season with the Lady Warriors.

The Nansemond River High School softball team went from a 4-16 season in 2012 to a 16-6 season in 2013 with a few seniors, a lot of youth and the guidance of new head coach Gabe Rogers. Now, the challenge of continuing the success lies before those still-young players and their coach.

“It’s a different feel this year,” Rogers said. “Last year, we were very young, naive, hungry to be able to prove ourselves.”

He said opponents figured with all of the freshmen in its lineup, Nansemond River would not play that well. Consequently, the Lady Warriors worked to show them they were wrong.

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“That’s what propelled us to be a good team last year,” he said. “We just played with a chip on our shoulder.”

He wants to see a return of that blue-collar mentality this year as he sees the 2014 squad’s biggest challenge as already being complacency.

Last year, Rogers noted how the seniors were driven to succeed after experiencing the losing season the year before. Those seniors included Jazmine Card, Eryn Haley, Hope Mounie and Sydney Glover, who earned first team all-region, first team all-district and second team all-state honors last year.

For the abundance of returning freshmen, now sophomores, “They didn’t experience that losing season,” Rogers said, indicating another reason that could contribute to complacency.

Though its youthful core is a year older, Nansemond River is still extremely young. Players are still competing for starting positions, but Rogers said if he made a starting lineup today, “You’re probably looking at six sophomores, two juniors and a freshman.”

And his expectations for them are very high.

“With the new conference classifications, I would venture to say we have the talent to be a state competitor,” he said.

Leading the way for the Lady Warriors will be junior right fielder Morgan Lowers, who was a strong contributor for them last year. She had a great summer in travel ball, Rogers said.

“In all honesty, she very much has the ability to quite possibly be Player of the Year in our conference,” he said.

Also returning is sophomore Jaclyn Mounie, who was named to the all-district first team as a utility player in 2013. Coach Rogers praised her for her ability to bat runs in and for her play at shortstop.

“She’s greatly improved from last year,” Rogers said.

He said she could switch positions this year with fellow sophomore KateLynn Hodgkiss and begin playing second base.

Roger said Hodgkiss was “very important for our success last year … She did a lot of good stuff offensively and defensively for us.”

The Lady Warriors will count on more of the same from her, as well as last year’s primary pitcher, Lauren Maddrey, who was named to the all-district second team.

“She’ll be back in the circle for us,” Rogers said of Maddrey, now a sophomore.

The coach said he liked the Southeastern District because of the challenge it presented to his team. The Virginia High School League’s realignment will change that, though.

“I think it kind of takes away some of that competitiveness,” he said.

Ultimately, though, he said the change does not matter to him because of the fact that whoever his team is told to play, “We’re just going to go play them.”

For the regular season schedule, he has lined up some games for his team against some likely challenging and unconventional foes this season. They include First Colonial High School, which won the Beach District last season.

“That’s going to be a great game for us,” Rogers said.

Nansemond River will also face Warhill High School, which has a strong pitcher, who Rogers said should provide a good test, and Landstown High School.

“I would expect a competitive game out of them, as well,” he said.

The Lady Warriors are set to begin their regular season on March 18 at home against Grassfield High School.