Heat, not just that break-out-shorts, roll up the T-shirt sleeves, hat-drenching oven treatment blanketing every square inch of Centralia’s Bicentennial Park, but the heat of competition as 13 high school girls’ softball teams tried to see where all the upcoming season’s pieces fit and show that they were all better than the other 11 teams.
Kendra Murphy, head coach of the Centralia High School Lady Panthers said her players came out of the camp with knowledge about more than being able to play in the heat.
They also learned how to play as a team, under competitive pressure, Murphy said. One important aspect of that, she said, is communication. “The older girls need to talk to each other when they are on the field as well as to the younger players.”
From the beginning of the first half of the camp through the end of the second half, Murphy said she and her assistant coaches saw improvement.
“They definitely improved, they had a long way to go and they covered a lot of ground,” she said. “They still have a way to go. But by the end of camp they had turned around and were playing together. By then, the things we knew they had to work on, well they were obviously better.”
Murphy had a simple, but strong metric for what “obviously better” means.
They are at the point now were they can get on the field and play with anybody,” she said. “By the end of camp, they were obviously better. The good is there.”
Murphy said the team has shown some impressive flashes of skill during camp. “Anna Romine was one of the girls who showed some strengths, she was pretty good at putting the ball in play, no matter what she was facing from the pitcher’s mound.”
She said she saw similar strengths in Gwen Bostic, Olivia Hombs, Ella Holliman, and a lot of strength from Mallory Smith at catcher. “And Carter Hawkins has exploded in the outfield,” Murphy said. “She is a huge part of our defense in center field. We are working on her slapping. She will be a force at the plate as well.”
While she was focused on her players, Murphy still found time to cast an eye on the visiting teams. She reported no serious surprises. “Palmyra is still strong and Bowling Green has a pretty good pitcher this season, but I didn’t really see any big surprises,” Murphy said.
The camp was not perfect though, she said. “Numbers were down a little and I could not shift all the players around the way I wanted to see who would best benefit us most at which position.”
“We’re not perfect yet,” she said. “And the team knows it. But they also know now that they can get on the field and compete with anyone. Perfection will come, we’ll get there in October.” Which, she said, will be just in time for post-season play.