Cathedral to enter 2016 campaign with experience on its side

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Cathedral High School softball team returns to the diamond this year a more-seasoned squad.

Coach Gary Blackwell said the Green Wave have only lost one senior in the offseason. While the team is still young — fostering just two seniors, Marty Lewis and Elizabeth Smith — Blackwell thinks that leaves the team with room to grow.

“These kids, at this age, grow a lot in the summer, one year to the next,” Blackwell said. “They’ve matured a lot, and they’re getting stronger and faster.”

Email newsletter signup

Cathedral has completed its first full week of practice, while players simultaneously travel for summer ball tournaments. Blackwell said there are still a number of players he is breaking into shape before the season begins late this month.

“(We’ve focused on) getting in shape,” Blackwell said. “This week, we want to get in shape and work on fundamentals. We’re doing a lot of hitting (Thursday) and these fielding drills.”

After a week of focus on the fundamentals, Blackwell said he is scrimmaging and finding out where his players best fit.

Smith is one player who knows what her role is on the Cathedral softball team. The rising senior tossed and threw in the bullpen after taking reps at a soft toss station Thursday. Blackwell said Smith and her fellow senior, Lewis, make up half of the pitching staff. The other two spots will be filled by underclassmen.

“We’re still young, but we’ve grown as a team and know how each player plays,” Smith said. “We’ve gotten better in the offseason.”

One bump in the road the Green Wave will have to tread over is that Lewis is sidelined for approximately one month while she is recovering from knee surgery. Blackwell said he expects to have her back by district play Aug. 8.

Smith said Cathedral’s hitting has come a long way from last season. Blackwell said what he has observed in the batting cage is positive, and he will learn more from intrasquad in the coming weeks.

“Bats are looking good,” Blackwell said. “We work in the cage mostly … but we’re hitting the ball well when I throw to them. Everyone is connecting pretty well.”

Blackwell said the trait he saw last season that makes him the most optimistic about the 2016 season is the team’s intensity.

“I saw some hard work and desire,” Blackwell said. “That’s the big thing, you have to have that, and they really want to excel.”

Cathedral opens the season July 29 against Trinity Episcopal, a game Blackwell said he has circled on the calendar.

“Since they beat us in the last game we played last year, that’s going to be one of our big rivals,” Blackwell said.