There is nothing to fear, Xavier softball coach Carrie Markham assures her team.
The Gators will be young with limited experience entering the 2017 season, which begins this weekend with games on Thursday (Feb. 23), Friday (Feb. 24) and Saturday (Feb. 25) at the Sunrise Mountain Invitational at Rio Vista Park in Peoria.
“We are going to have some nerves because we don’t have a lot of experience, we have some players up from the JV (junior varsity) and because some people will be working at different positions than they are used to. People are going to have to step up and be calm in these kinds of situations.’’
In other words, this (nervousness) too shall pass.
Perhaps the biggest question mark will be the status of No. 1 pitcher, sophomore Kylie Rodgers. She gained experience by starting a handful of games as a freshman when XCP went 20-5, but 2017 has her dealing with an injury. It is not known when she will be ready to go.
That means Markham will rely on junior Mercedes Silva, junior Abby Rascon and senior Marissa Sgambati, who is up from the JV.
“I think we are going to be all right,’’ Markham said.
The coach added that it will be up to four returning seniors to provide leadership and show the younger ones what to do and what not to do.
Those players are outfielder Annamarie Hartman, third baseman Kelsey Melton, shortstop-outfielder Kaela Stehly and second baseman Macrina Zachar. And junior catcher-first baseman Melissa Fedorka is expected to provide plenty of energy.
Xavier also will have a pair of promising freshmen – outfielder Katie Donahey and infielder Cameron Martin.
Donahey is the sister of recent Xavier graduate Megan Donahey. Megan hit left-handed and was more of a slap hitter, while Katie is a bit bigger, hits from the right side and perhaps has more power.
Xavier’s first home game is Tuesday (Feb. 28) against Chandler Hamilton at Petznick Field. First pitch is at 3:45 p.m.
Xavier Prep 2017 softball roster
Head coach – Carrie Markham. Assistant coaches – Joe Bogart, Angela Bergemann.
Players – Kaela Stehly, Sr., SS/OF; Katie Banks, So., SS/OF; Kylie Rodgers, So., P/OF; Annamarie Hartman, Sr., OF; Mercedes Silva, Jr., P/2B; Macrina Zachar, Sr., 2B/UT; Jordan Bassett, Jr., C/OF; Katie Donahey, Fr., OF; Cameron Martin, Fr., SS; Abby Rascon, Jr., P/OF; Annalisa Roman, So., 3B; Kelsey Melton, Sr., 3B; Melissa Fedorka, Jr., C/1B; Marissa Sgambati, Sr., P/1B.