COVENTRY TWP. Finding the right mix has been the theme of the season for the Coventry softball team.
The Comets have a roster with players from all four grade levels and as their young players and veterans have mixed, they’ve been working toward finding the right balance. Through 12 games - albeit a span of time in which they normally would have played five or six more contests if not for weather - a 5-7 record and 4-5 Portage Trail Conference mark underscores the up-and-down path this season has taken.
There have been some memorable high points, such as an 11-10 win over Field to open the season, but there have also been tough losses that have left players and coaches shaking their heads. Because the roster is young, there were bound to be ups and downs as they learn the varsity ropes.
"We have a lot of younger players this year so it has been a process to get them on the varsity level and what is expected of them," head coach Lisa Andrews said. "They have really stepped up and have made a big impact for us the last half of the season."
A quick look at the team’s batting stats reveals the ways in which underclassmen and veterans have commingled and contributed. Freshman outfielder Cassidy Karakis has gotten better at the plate as the season has worn on and entering the final few games of the season, has a .452 batting average. Andrews pointed to her defense in left field as another valuable asset for the team.
Senior Anna Kimevski has played just about everywhere Karakis hasn’t, pitching but also finding her way to multiple other positions as needed. Kimevski’s .450 average at the plate and two home runs, along with her efforts on the mound, have gone a long way toward providing stability for Coventry.
The pitching staff is a four-person effort with two seniors, one sophomore and one freshman. Kimevski has been at the forefront of that effort, but her willingness to play other positions has been one of the examples of veteran leadership Andrews and her staff hope will set a good tone for the program in the present and future.
"The seniors have stepped up and are pitching and playing other defensive positions depending on our needs for each game," Andrews said. "We have struggled with taking advantage of balls that are put in play but they are doing their best on the mound, no matter who it is."
The weather, while no one wants to use it as an excuse, is undeniably a factor. If nothing else, it has slowed the pace of the season to a crawl at times and resulted in sloppy play all around from virtually every team in the area at times. While it may be true that no one team or player can feel like they are the only one who isn’t quite in peak form due to not being able to play as much as normal, getting players to understand that truth if they make a mistake on the field isn’t so easy.
For a team that is working to figure out who it is, not being able to play on a regular basis can be doubly frustrating.
"I think our biggest challenge has been to really find some momentum and really focus on the kind of team we are," Andrews said. "We have a lot of younger players so they need to gain that confidence that they are much better than their record reflects right now."
That message is taking time to set in, but with only a few games left in the season and the tournament arriving soon, there isn’t much time left for any sorting out to take place. The way the year has gone, Coventry may just find itself searching out answers and figuring things out right up to its last game of the season, but if that’s the case, the Comets will do their best to keep swinging until the end.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
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