Miners softball will rebuild pitching and focus on defense and hitting | ParkRecord.com

Miners softball will rebuild pitching and focus on defense and hitting

Park City High School junior Salina Ochoa (15), left, eyes the ball as she prepares to catch it, tagging a Stansbury player out Thursday afternoon, April 6, 2017. Ochoa's teammate, sophomore Kendyl Boozier-Taylor (14), also lunged to catch the ball, but came up short. (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)
Tanzi Propst |

The Park City High School softball team held practice on Wednesday evening — taking positions in the shape of the diamond across both high school gyms to work on defense. In total, the team has 25 players — “just enough for varsity and JV teams,” junior shortstop Amanda Riely said.

Head coach Shannon Gebbia said numbers were slightly down from last season, but after finishing last season with 15 or 16 players, she hopes more will stick around to play.

The coach said part of the team’s lackluster turnout is likely due to having to compete with track and lacrosse, but there’s also a stigma of losing.

“I think a lot of it is, people see your record and it’s a losing season after losing season,” she said. “This is my fifth season and I think we have 12 or 13 wins in four seasons, and that’s in the last two.”

Gebbia said players also come in not knowing how much of a commitment it is to play on the team.

Senior Salina Ochoa, who started playing T-ball when she was 6 and has stuck with softball since, said thinking of the team has kept her dedicated.

“If one person isn’t in it, we all kind of fall apart,” she said. “So no matter what, you kind of have to be focused to keep everyone else focused. Because once one person isn’t, it’s kind of like the ripple effect; we kind of fall apart.

“It’s definitely hard,” she added. “Other kids go and hang out … or we get home late and have to do homework, so it’s a lot of hard work and dedication.”

But ultimately, Ochoa said it’s worth it as the team bonds and becomes like a second family.

Gebbia said this year will be a rebuilding year for the team after both of its experienced pitchers graduated. They will be replaced by two underclasswomen in Landon Albright and Emma Stockewell. Albright, a sophomore, has some experience pitching in JV games and a few varsity innings, while Stockewell, a freshman, has pitching experience and is looking to branch out into other roles, though she will be needed on the mound, Gebbia said.

Gebbia said the team’s strength will come from its infield, all of whom are returning varsity players.

The Miners also have batting talent in junior Tiana Clevenger, junior catcher Vanessa Heredia and Ochoa, among others.

“I’m really excited,” Gebbia said. “I think they’re going to put one over. Salina and Vanessa have both hit the fence in the last season, and Salina was foul over. We have small goals but that’s what matters.”

Ochoa said she hopes the newcomers embrace their commitment to the team.

“You’re not going to be able to come and go,” she said, adding that the game is not easy, especially making defensive plays while under pressure. But she’s optimistic about the team, and her senior season.

“I think this year is going to be our year, hopefully, I do,” she said. “For me personally, I hope to finally get my home run. I’ve come so close and I’m ready for it.”

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