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softball preview: Youth abounds for Bearden

An extremely young softball team is learning a new style of play at Bearden High School under the leadership of new head coach Andrea Veler.

“We have a young team that’s learning a whole new system,” BHS assistant coach Leonard Sams said. “It’s going to take ’em some time to develop. … We’ve been starting three, four, five freshmen ahead of time. … I think we’re going to develop pretty quickly and be able to maybe compete toward the end of the season. … We’re looking to sneak in the top four, top five positions in our district [4-AAA].”

As for the new system from which several freshmen will be asked to immediately contribute, “We’re training on more of a collegiate level,” said Sams, a travel league coach and lead instructor of Thunder Fast Pitch Softball training school. “We have a great freshman class that’s come in, very, very talented. ... The future looks extremely bright.”

Bearden’s infield is somewhat experienced, with Haley Miles at shortstop, junior Jennifer Griffith at second base, Jordan Thomas at first base and sophomore Hannah Champlin at third. Sams said the early season loss of Griffith (illness) “really hurt us.”

Senior Alex Boris moves behind the plate this season. Designated player (hitter) will be filled by either freshman Courtney Braden or freshman Sarah Burklin, who also will play some first base.

Ace pitcher Kaylee Heesmoth “is starting to come into her own.”

The outfield is greener than the March grass with three freshmen: Amanda Dunaway in right field, Emma Kugler in centerfield and Kierra Freidman in left. Sophomore Olivia Cashion looks for playing time in the outfield.

Others in the mix include juniors Sara Sartin and Morgan Feliciano and sophomore Lauren Solberg.

“We have a great coaching staff with Andrea and [assistant] Renee Brittle,” Sams said.


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