With upwards of 10 newcomers, the Sedona Red Rock High School softball team is more or less starting from scratch in 2017.
But at the same time, head coach Ethan Hartz expects better results than 2016, when the team went 6-12.
“It’s going to be partly a rebuilding year because we have so many newcomers,” Hartz said. “There are a lot of freshmen who are going to get game experience.”
The fact of the matter is, with so many new incoming players and just five returners, Hartz is still unsure who will make up the starting nine game-in and game-out. What he does know is where the Scorpions’ strengths are to this point.
“Well pitching is pretty strong,” Hartz said. “[Junior] Natalie [Monge] is important every year, I’m excited to see what she’s got in store.”
Hartz went on to say that finding good pitching is a yearly challenge, so he is also keeping his eye on freshmen who will be able to step up as a second pitcher. He also feels confident in the top half of his batting lineup, and in the fact that throughout the year more players will rise to the surface to fill in the other half.
Due to the uncertainties in the team, its style of play on the offensive end remains to be seen.
Other top returners are junior first baseman Ally Alver and lone senior utility Courtney Chalmers. Chalmers will mostly play shortstop, but can play in the outfield as well.
One key that puts Red Rock ahead of schedule compared to 2016 is that it does not have to spend as much time working on the fundamentals. Nevertheless, inexperience will still be its biggest weakness.
“The games are so much different than anything they’ve [the freshmen] have played in before,” Hartz said. “I feel excited to see what the freshmen can do in game situations. I like what I’ve seen so far.”
The first version of the 2017 Scorpions will take the field at 3:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24 at Mayer High School. They will make their home debut against Payson High School at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 2, in a game Hartz said “is going to be a good experience for the young ones.”