Ronan High School softball coach Kellie Manyhides knows when she examines her lineup top to bottom she has a lot of talent and now her mission is to translate it into a MHSA Class A state softball bid.
Because of inclement weather, the girls series with Frenchtown and Columbia Falls were postponed but that hasn’t deterred Manyhides’ excitement about her team’s potential to compete in the Maidens first season back competing in Class A.
“I am pretty excited about the girls’ potential,” Manyhides said. “We’ve had a couple of weeks without a game and unfortunately, we’ve spent half of our time inside a gym. We just continue to focus on what our team needs to work on. I am proud of all of the hard work (the kids) have put in this season.”
The Maidens, who have practiced indoors for most of the week, have continued to overcome hurdles to get more work accomplished in practice.
“Our coaches talk every day about what we need to do to just get better on the field,” Manyhides said. “Even if we are practicing inside, we still make sure we are hitting everything. We need indoor equipment to overcome our biggest obstacles and continue to develop that mental toughness.”
The Maidens, who Manyhides has stated have a lot of games in the mid and later part of April, will continue to try to improve as they reach the heart of their schedule later in April.
“We have a lot of games in April and every week it’ll be packed with at least two or three games,” Manyhides said. “That is every single week (in April) it will be go time in softball. That is for sure.”
Several of the core components of Manyhides’ team have only gotten better, according to Manyhides.
Deciding to highlight a few of the key pieces that have developed for the Maidens both on offense and defense, Manyhides said she felt several players give the Maidens a chance to make a solid post-season run.
Manyhides admits her entire team is potent but senior Marissa Mock is just one of several Maidens that stood out this year.
“I am just really excited about Mock’s potential,” Manyhides said. “She is a great fielder, an even better hitter in practice and is just really strong offensively. I am excited to see what she can do against live pitching.”
Another player Manyhides expressed confidence is Katlyn Santos.
Santos, who struggled with injuries the previous year, is now on her way back to being healthy, and according to Manyhides, her presence in the lineup will make a huge difference.
“She is just a great hitter and one of those natural born leaders,” Manyhides said. “She isn’t very loud but she is a lead by example type of person. She is just a gamer that lives, eats and breathes softball. I think it’ll be nice having her back healthy.”
One significant area the team improved on from last year to this year is its pitching. Last year, Maidens’ pitcher Gabriella Wirz didn’t play. This season, her presence is already felt in the Maidens’ dugout.
“She has had some really great strikeouts and it’s nice to have her back as well,” Manyhides said. “We have two younger pitchers that are pretty strong. Gabby has provided a huge momentum boost in our lineup and might, at this juncture of the season, be close to batting a thousand. She is one of our stronger hitters and a very versatile player.”
In the Maidens’ first two games, they’ve had mixed results with a 22-0 victory over Browning and a 16-4 loss to the Libby Lady Loggers, both conference opponents.
“We need to improve the mental part of our game,” Manyhides said. “Against Libby, we made too many errors and we can’t compete with a team if you have eight errors. I am really excited about our team’s potential. We should be very competitive the next week and if we put in two more hard weeks worth of practices, that should make a difference. Like I said before, the biggest obstacle for our team is the mental part and practicing defense is a little different in the gym then when you are practicing on dirt, obviously.”
The Maidens will travel to Stevensville Thursday at 3 p.m. at Stevensville High School.