PCHS softball: Park City ready to get back on the diamond
The challenge in front of Alissa Smith isn’t an easy one, nor does she expect it to be.
The first-year head coach of the Park City High School softball team enters the 2012 season after losing a multitude of senior talent and inheriting a relatively young roster.
So how does she plan on integrating fun, development and the task of winning ball games?
"I think they have to go hand-in-hand," she said. "If kids, especially at this age, are enjoying themselves, and if they love what they do, the desire to win is going to be a lot more organic. They’re going to want to do it. They’re going to want to work hard and want to see the fruits of their labor."
The Miners are coming off a 7-15 finish in 2011, and must replace one of the most imposing players in the state in departed senior Laura Kubicki, who led Utah softball in doubles, triples and home runs, Smith said.
This year, Park City will be leaning on the likes of captains Annaka Egan, Carson Lyman and Casey Picillo. Also returning are juniors Abbie Towery, Morgan Cormier and Kaelan Martin.
Smith said incoming freshman Thailer James, who has potential as a front-line pitcher as her career develops, will also see a good amount of varsity playing time this season.
"Having a group of girls that’s interested in learning is different," she said. "When you get a bunch of girls with a clean slate, it’s cool."
This season, Smith said she wants to be able to engrain a grind-it-out mentality with her squad.
"Park City has a history of either winning by a lot or getting blown out," she said. "I want them to learn how to play in close games and be competitive. The hard part is, you get to the fifth inning in a competitive game and mentally you get tired, and physically you get tired.
"I want them to be fighters, to be goal-driven. I think what that will do is encourage them to take conditioning more seriously. It will encourage them to push themselves."
Smith said the returning players from last year’s varsity have taken it upon themselves to help usher the transition for their younger teammates to play at a higher level.
"The better their teammates are, the more their teammates know, the better we’ll be as a cohesive unit," she said. "They are taking the time, more often than not, spending a lot of time answering questions from the younger girls."
Park City started its season Friday night with a preseason game against American Leadership Academy. Smith said she expects the preseason will be a vital starting point for the young team as they learn how to play with one another.
"The attitude the girls are taking is going to lead us to a very successful season," she said. "They all want to be here and they all want to play."
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