The Wellington High School Lady-Crusader softball squad will take the field Monday, March 25 at Rose Hill. They will do so with a new coach, T.D. Buck, running the show.
Buck takes over for Carmen Hatfield, after he's been an assistant for another Spring sport at WHS.
"I've always coached track, I enjoyed track, I miss working with the the throwers," Buck said. "I thought this was an opportunity, since my daughters have played softball, I've been around softball for about 14 years." The new coach has had to face some obstacles thus far, thanks to mother nature.
"It's been a challenge with the weather," Buck said. "We've been fortunate we've had the availability of the armory." There, the team has done a lot of hitting practice. At times they have braved the elements and practiced in frigid temperatures.
"But practice is going well, we've got some good returning players that have a lot of experience," the coach continued. "A lot of these girls played a lot of ball in the summer." Five seniors are on the 25-girl roster.
Ashley Collins, senior, will play in the outfield, Savannah Cornejo, senior will spend time in the infield. Seniors Shanlyn Hefley and Kailey Jenkins will split time in the pitchers circle, as well as a couple other spots. Lexi Zavala, senior, will play in the outfield as well.
"We've got those good seniors that are helping us out...they've been great leaders," Buck added. Other players to keep an eye out for are juniors, Shelby Hamel, and Carlie McComb; Peyton Adams, sophomore; and freshmen, Ryleigh Buck and McKenna Oathout.
For the first game, Coach Buck expects his team to go out and compete, reciting an old, coaching adage.
"You always hear it and you always see it: the players take on the personality of their head coach," Buck said. "I don't know if that's always a good plan that they take my personality in everything I do, but we'll fight and we'll play hard." As for season expectations...
"Of course we want to win them all," Buck laughed. Last season the team went 7-14.
"Number one, I don't want to get swept by anybody, and I want to sweep somebody," he said. "If we go .500, that's going to be a pretty nice start." Finding the right combination of players on the field will be a work in progress for the Lady-Crusaders.
After the season opener, the team plays three in a row at home, all double-double headers. The first against Mulvane at 4:30 p.m. March 28, at Worden Park. As the season gets underway, and starts to progress, the team will continue to adjust to a new coach, and the coach will adjust to a new sport.
"I've fallen in love with it, it's a great sport and fun to watch," Buck said.