Sectional victories had been few and far between for the Brush softball program.
That changed in 2015 when a freshman-dominated squad won the program’s first sectional game in over a decade. Last year, the Arcs made it two and a row and in 2017 head coach Erwin Hines hopes to keep that streak alive while adding another postseason win or two.
“When we came to the program three years ago we were a program without any success in victories or culture of commitment to play softball,” Hines said. “The staff immediately went to work in our middle school program as well with our community partners, SEYSBA/Lyndhurst Dad’s Club, to increase our feeder program. Out of that we were able to field our Class of 2018. They came in with a dedication and commitment to turn the program into winners with a never quit attitude.”
That year, the Arcs started six freshmen on varsity.
The team didn’t win many games but the experience the players gained proved to be very valuable as they played their best softball in the postseason.
Another strong group of freshmen stepped in last year and kept the postseason winning streak alive.
“2017 brings us to the next step in a journey to success,” Hines said.
Brush’s projected starting lineup includes five juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.
“We are a team built around speed on the bases and defense,” Hines said. “The core of the team has played varsity for two years with this being their third in the leadership roles.”
After missing the 2016 season with an injury, junior Lauryn Grey returns at first base and pitcher. She’ll also hit in the middle of the order.
Junior Taylor Brizze, who batted .356 last season, will move from third to shortstop and freshmen Makenna Bishko and Hailie Jones round out the Arcs infield.
Brush’s outfield consists of juniors Cydney Walton and Iman Durrah and all-conference sophomore Teya LeBlanc-Hill, who hit .378 last season.
“Our outfield’s speed will allow us to play deep and cover ground for bloopers,” Hines said. “Center fielder Teya LeBlanc-Hill led our team in on base percentage.”
Junior all-conference honoree Karina Bishko returns in the circle where she struck out 72 batters in 69 1/3 innings last season. Sophomore Taelor Lester also will see time in the circle and at first base. She struck out 52 while allowing just 10 walks in 61 innings.
Sophomore catcher Autumn McDonald also returns as an All-WRC honorable mention award winner.
“We are really excited about our pitching staff, especially our sophomore pitcher Taelor Lester,” Hines said. “Taelor has ability to dominate a game with an array of pitches as well as a powerful fast ball. Karina Bishko and Autumn McDonald should be one of the more seasoned battery-mates in the league. Last season Karina was responsible for all of our conference victories and was a leading force on the squad throughout the season.”
Junior Danajah Sanders will see time in the outfield and freshmen Amiya Weaver and Kyra Boiner will play a utility role this spring.
“We play in a very tough conference with seasoned teams and need to understand every play counts,” Hines said. “We are entering the season with no senior leadership and starting two freshmen. The freshmen have to mature quickly and not get intimidated by the size and scope of games. We have to get our bats hot early to give our speed a chance to make a difference on the base paths.”