Young Busters' softball squad off to 3-1 start

2/14/2013

Young Busters' softball squad off to 3-1 start

Young Busters' softball squad off to 3-1 start

By ADAM HOLT

aholt@gctelegram.com

Four games into the season, there are times Garden City Community college head softball coach Becky Holland sees her team as what it is at its core: a young group.

The Lady Broncbusters return just two sophomores from last year's squad, infielder Mekayla Aguiniga and pitcher Kallie Hoover. But youth doesn't mean a lack of talent or ability, and after dropping their opener to Trinidad State (Colo.), the Busters won three straight.

Every now and then, though, that youth flashes through in the form of a mistake or two.

"When we started our first game, that's what it looked like," said Holland, herself a rookie coach at GCCC, replacing Trina Denison, now the head coach at Garden City High School. "We looked like a young team that wasn't really sure. We Had moments at Frank Phillips, that, same thing. Just little mistakes that we made. It's just kind of a growing process, and that's why we have the preseason that we have before we jump into conference."

Garden City split two games with Trinidad State, losing 11-0 on Feb. 3 and rebounding to win 1-0 the next day. On Saturday, the Busters swept Frank Phillips (Texas) on the road, taking 6-0 and 11-1 decisions.

Hoover has pitched 14 innings to lead the team, with freshmen Joslynn Lopez and Chelsea Justice tossing four and five, respectively. Holland said she doesn't have a set rotation in mind yet, and is content to ride the hot hand or play matchups.

So far, Lopez and Justice are still getting adjusted to junior college ball, but Holland said a little experience should go a long way.

"Our two freshmen are still working through those growing pains," Holland said. "I've been in their shoes, I know how that feels. It's just, like I said, more than anything, it's going to be getting them into games and getting them into situations."

In the field, results have been mixed-to-good. With the Busters splitting time practicing indoors and outdoors depending on the weather, the outfielders haven't gotten as much of a chance to get game-situation work in, like dealing with wind.

But overall, Holland is happy with how Garden City looks in the field.

"We've turned a couple double-plays already," Holland said. "We've really made some pretty good plays, especially working inside and out, you're not really sure off the bat how that's going to go. But we've really made some pretty good defensive plays, so I've really been pleased with that."

As for at the plate, Holland said the Busters should come around soon, and improve steadily as the season goes on.

"I think our hitting will really, really come around," she said. "I think it's slow right now, just not being able to see a lot of live pitching, not really being able to be outside."

The Busters head to Midland, Texas, for a tournament, playing Luna (N.M.) at 8:30 a.m. Friday, followed by Odessa (Texas) at 1:30 p.m. and Otero (Colo.) at 4 p.m. Saturday, Garden City plays two more games at 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

GCCC's home opener is Feb. 21, and coincidentally, is against Pratt, where Holland was head coach last year, following three years as an assistant.

"It is. I can remember setting up the games with Trina (Denison, former GCCC and current Garden City High School coach), and it was early on, and we never thought about it," Holland said. "Then I looked at the schedule when I got here, and I was like, 'Really?' How ironic is that."

And moving forward, while the team's youth is the reality of the situation, it won't be used as an excuse.

"We've talked to them a lot about playing at our level, and not necessarily worrying about who we're playing," Holland said. "To me, I don't look at it as sophomores or freshmen, especially having a new coach. It's a new experience for everybody. To me, the youth doesn't really scare me at all.

"They know what level they're expected to play at, and what job they're expected to do. It doesn't matter if they're young or not, you're expected to play at this level and get your job done."

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