Lady Dukes work on technique

Published 8:02 am Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Cumberland County High School’s varsity softball team has started the season 0-3, but new Head Coach Glenda Grubbs has a clear focus on what needs to change, and she has confidence in her players’ ability to get the job done.

“I know the teams that we’ve played so far, there’s competitive pitching,” she said. “Each team seems to bring at least one good pitcher and sometimes two even, and we’re working to improve our offensive output.”

In their season opener March 12, the Lady Dukes fell 17-7 to host Prince Edward County High School. In their two games since then against Amelia County High School and Central Lunenburg High School, they have been outscored 37-2.

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“So we’re spending a great deal of time working on correct hitting technique,” Grubbs said. “I think that may have been a weak point in the past, and hopefully if we’re able to put the ball in play more often, we’ll have a little bit more success than they’ve had …”

The Lady Dukes lost only two players from last year’s team due to graduation, including leadoff hitter Olivia Sims.

This year’s squad includes four seniors, four juniors, two sophomores and one freshman.

“I’m optimistic in what they’re capable of doing,” Grubbs said. “They just have to be willing to put out the work to get there.”

The coach noted that the teams captains this season are senior Taylor Garrett, junior Nikki Hurt and junior Caroline Seal.

“There’s some outstanding leaders, such as the captains, and just great girls (that) want to give you everything they have every day and go out of their way to be a positive leader,” Grubbs said.

This will be a season that includes not only external challenges from opponents but also internal challenges due to key changes.

“We’re leading girls into different positions this season than they probably have played the last couple of years on the varsity team, looking for a combination both defensively and offensively which has more production,” Grubbs said.

Hurt has the most experience in the circle, making her the No. 1 option there, the coach said, but she also is an outstanding defensive player, which may lead to more pitching opportunities for junior Sydney Gilbert.

“I think we’re going to go ahead and maybe start Sydney, who is the other pitcher, and use Nikki defensively,” Grubbs said. “It just depends probably on the team you’re playing that day.”

The coach highlighted senior Brett McHenry on offense.

“She’s going to be able to get on base, and that’s been the case I think every single game so far, multiple times,” Grubbs said. “And then your standout hitters are going to be Nikki and Caroline, and I think that’s probably been true in the past.”

The Lady Dukes visit Blessed Sacrament Huguenot Catholic School on Friday at 4:30 p.m.