Cougs to rely on youth, have five freshmen on roster
Last year’s run to the state title could be described many ways.
Jeff Davidson, entering his 12th season running the Spanish Springs program, went with “magical.”
“Last season was just a magical year,” he said. “We were up and down all year long. The team came together at the right time … When we got to state, we just played phenomenally.
“It was just a magical, magical end to the season.”
But that was last year. He met with the team last Tuesday afternoon before the first official practice of the season (following tryouts) with a simple message: It’s time to move on.
That move will made easier by massive roster turnover. Five seniors (four starters) graduated from last year’s team and five freshmen have joined the mix.
The graduation of pitcher Hayley Fein will be the most blaring departure. Fein was 25-12 with a 1.79 ERA in the circle last spring. At the plate, she hit .270 with four home runs and 26 RBIs (the second most on the team).
- 2016 Record: 28-15, 17-5 4A North
- Playoffs: 6-3, state champs
- Key Losses: Hayley Fein, Kourtney Townsend, Regan Hubbard
- Key Returners: Katelyn Townsend, Courtney Huff, Amidori Anderson, Cami Moore, Aubrey Parks
“It’s going to be tough (to replace her),” Davidson said. “I mean, she carried us last year, pitched almost every single game.”
A trio of players in their inaugural varsity seasons will fill in by committee (at least early). Junior Mirna Nichols as well as freshmen Tyra Clary and Kayla House will be fighting for innings.
“We’ll have to see how they do,” Davidson said. “I don’t know what we have yet. They haven’t gone through our regiment … We have to get them in the regiment and get them going and see how they do.”
They will be throwing to a new catcher. Kourtney Townsend was a leader behind the dish and one of the Cougs’ most dangers bats. She hit .375 (second on the team) with three home runs and led in the team in RBIs (35), doubles (8) and at bats (128).
Taking her place will be junior Aubrey Parks and/or freshman Hunter Travers.
Travers makes up 20 percent of the freshman class that Davidson expects to play an immediate role this spring.
“Every single one of them is going to contribute,” he said.
He added that defense should be a strength this spring. Returning are junior starting infielders Courtney Huff and Katelyn Townsend.
Townsend led the team last spring with a .458 batting average and also scored the most runs (31) and stole the most bases (10). Huff hit .281 and blasted a team-high five home runs to go along with 21 RBIs.
Junior Amidori Anderson (.341, one home run, 18 RBIs) will also be a key bat in the lineup.
Spanish Springs starts its state title defense this weekend with five non-league games in Sacramento. Defending the title isn’t something Davidson is concerned about though.
Not yet, at least.
“Every single year is a new year. Everybody in our league gets better,” he said. “It’s a different challenge every single year. It doesn’t matter who you have, or what players you have. It’s always different.”