Alta softball team made up of younger players
Because it lost eight senior players from the team that finished second in Region 3 last year, Alta has a younger, smaller line-up this season in girls softball. Although the loss of such an experienced corps of players has an effect on this year’s team, Alta coach Tiffani Airmet is excited about Alta’s chances.
“It is kind of fun seeing these young girls step up, and they are playing great,” she said. “You don’t notice their youth when they are on the field. I can’t wait to see how far they go this year.”
Because there are fewer upper classmen on the team, Airmet has fewer players to rotate through her line-ups.
“Most of the girls are playing both junior varsity and varsity games because we have a short line-up,” she said. “They are playing in as many as six games every week.”
To help get them through the season, Airmet started the girls on a rigorous strength training program during the off season. The team lifted weights and worked on running for conditioning and speed.
“We knew we had to toughen the girls up so there wouldn’t be as many injuries this season,” she said. “The added advantage is they come into each game with more strength and stamina.”
Alta has just two seniors playing this season, Tori Brooks and Sara Rivera. Brooks handles the first base position while Rivera plays right field. The duo has stepped into a leadership role to develop the younger players.
“They don’t act like they are big seniors on the team,” Airmet said. “They get along well with the younger girls, and they know the team needs them to be successful.”
Airmet has found some surprises in her younger players too; athletes that have stepped up to handle the varsity game despite their youth.
She calls on a sophomore and a freshman to handle the pitching assignments. Sophomore Brittny Chase and freshman Brooke Vander Heide share time between the mound and second base.
And the batting line-up is coming along nicely for Alta. Brooks has already hit two home runs this season, while sophomore Callie Blackham has three and Karsten Williams, also a sophomore, has one. Williams has added three triples to her resume.
“We are deep in the line-up in our hitting,” Airmet said. “We not only have girls that can hit the ball hard, we have girls that can place the ball strategically in the field.”
Alta finished the preseason with a 7-6 record and opened region play with two straight wins. The Hawks beat Cottonwood, 11-1, in the season opener April 10, then handed Copper Hills a 3-2 loss the next night.
Copper Hills was the region champion last year and a team Airmet still believes will give Alta its toughest opponent in the region, despite the win.
“They play good softball at Copper Hills,” she said. “They have a great tradition.”
Regardless of the outcome of the rest of the games, Airmet says she is having a fun season.
“My girls are winning games, playing tough, and I get most of them for a few more years,” she said. “This is an exciting time for us.”