Starting in the front row, from left to right is Hannah Arne, Taylor Barber, Megan Henry, Julia Vaughn and Angel Henke. Middle row, from left to right is Olivia Brown, Sabrina Pruitt, Tanner Bencomo and Madison Cleveland. Back row, from left to right is Brea Johnson, Lady Indians Head Coach Trudy Bull, Becca Almus, Felicia Pruitt, Kaity Grills, Brittni Hagemeier, Lady Indians Assistant Coach and Junior Varsity Head Coach Hector Bencomo and Cailee Vitro.
With six seniors, four juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen, this years Elsberry Lady Indians team not only has experience and leadership, but according to Bull, the potential to go as far as they want to.
This could be the year of the Lady Indian’s Softball team, according to Head Coach Trudy Bull. With high numbers and returning monsters, she seems quite proud of this year’s Varsity and Junior Varsity teams.
“It’s been a while since we’ve seen this many kids, but outside of quantity we also have some great quality,” said Bull. “In fact, I just told our Superintendent how we can go as far as these girls want to go.”
According to her, it’s their chance as these girls can hit, run, pitch, field and just all around play ball. One person she is looking to help lead the pitching squad is Becca Almus, who helped lead the Lady Indians to a District win last season. Along with Felicia “Flee” Pruitt and some new up and coming stars, Bull said the pitching squad is looking top notch.
“Now we know Becca is good, as is Flee, but they make mistakes sometimes, rare, but sometimes. So we are going to be looking on our fielders to step up and play hard this season,” explained Bull. “Like I said Flee can pitch and we also have Hanna Arne, who we think will pitch quite a few JV games, as might Flee.”
Bull also said Arne does a good job out in the field, which helps make her a more universal player. Overall, she said they have a great mix of power and speed. With girls who can run fast such as Tanner Bencomo and Pruitt, there are the power hitters like Madison Cleveland and Brittani Hagemeier.
“I think Madison is going to be a beast this year and we all know what Brittni can do,” said Bull. “Olivia Brown has power, Brea Johnson has power and even Becca has power, so we can hit the ball.”
Other players include Angel Henke, Cailee Vitro, Taylor Barber, Megan Henry, Kaity Grills, Sabrina Pruitt and Julia Vaughn
“We talked about how we’re going to play some small ball and be more aggressive,” said Bull. “We are going to do everything we can to put the pressure on the other team this year. Now we may run into an out or two, but we’re going to make them make plays on us and take those extra bases when we can.”
Palmyra may not be the team to watch this season, and as far as Bull is concerned, the Lady Indians are a much better team this year.
“They always seem to be the hardest for my girls, I don’t know why but they are,” said Bull. “Used to be when I said their name, you could see that look in their eyes as if to say ‘Oh great.’ But now, I can say their name and they get hungry and confident, you can see it.”
According to Bull, the tough team for them this year, but not impossible to beat, will be North Callaway. However, she added that if they play like she knows they can they can beat anybody. In fact, for the foreseeable future, if any team could make it to State it could be this year’s Lady Indians.
Lady Indians Head Coach Trudy Bull said she doesn’t have many fears about this season. In fact, unlike previous years, they have been able to hit the ground running. Focus and pressure are, so far, this seasons motto, which is something they plan on showing a lot of.
“I hate to put that on these younger kids, but these girls have been playing together since they were freshman,” said Bull. “The girls who are starting now were starting as freshman for me. They know each other, they’ve all grown, matured as ball players and they have the potential. Now I’m not saying we’re going to go to State, because I wouldn’t dare jinx them like that. So our goal right now is to win our first game and go from there.”
Bull added that practices have been more of a hit the ground running kind of thing, with Lady Indians Assistant Coach and Junior Varsity Head Coach Hector Bencomo working with the younger players on the fundamentals, the older ones are already working on situations and pressing the issue.
“We are going to force the other team to make the plays and play the pressure,” said Bull. “That’s our focus right now, learning to play under pressure.”
Pressure is something Bull said can even be seen in their practice drills. Not only how to work under it but how to work with it. Although there is no real motto for the team just yet, the key words are ‘Pressure’ and ‘Focus’.
Surprisingly, Bull mentioned that she doesn’t see any real challenges for her team this year, as she is extremely impressed with the upper classmen.
“The way they have handled their roll in bringing the younger ones up to speed,” said Bull. “There hasn’t been any of this ‘freshmen do this and freshmen do that!’ Everything they have told them has been to help them and done in an appropriate way, like leaders.”
Bull added by saying she doesn’t see selfishness amongst her girls and she is proud to see how far they have come in maturity and growth. She doesn’t think they’re playing the “Me” factor, but rather the “Team” factor.
In a perfect world Bull said she could see a perfect season, but realistically she feels as though a double digit win season is more than do-able. The Lady Indians will play their season opener away at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 29 against the Louisiana Lady Bulldogs.
The game will be broadcast on ISN.
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