BY DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer
Like many sports at the high school level, softball coaches realized that to improve their in-season program they had to become involved in the summer months, too.
Different coaches have different philosophies, however. Some play strictly to win, while others, like Douglas High's Andy Mitchell and Carson's Scott Vickrey, use the summer months to develop some of their younger talent.
Neither team finished above .500, though Mitchell's Carson Valley Hurricanes won one tournament and finished second in another. Vickrey's Nevada Comets had a second-place finish. Both squads competed in the 16-under division, and played a strictly area schedule to keep costs down to parents.
Neither coach pays much attention to stats, and both played this summer with a lot of junior varsity players.
"It's always been that way," Vickrey said. "The better players (on your high school team) are going to go play on teams where they can get more exposure. We use this to develop our high school program. We wanted to put the fun back into it. We had a good group. It's about learning and getting the kids (to play) better."
"We're trying to give people the opportunity to keep playing," Mitchell said. "We work on developing their fundamentals and skills. You go with what you have. We got off to a rough start. I think we started 0-8."
In the best-case scenario, Vickrey and Mitchell would love to keep their high school teams intact, but they know that's not possible. The Hurricanes didn't have Katrina Morgan, Steph Harper and Emily Weaver, all of whom made the Grapettes out of Stockton, and the Comets didn't have Cassie Vondrak, Daria Lied or Nikki Keller, their top three pitchers.
Sometimes both teams had to scramble for players. The Hurricanes were fortunate enough to have four South Tahoe High players on their roster. Vickrey's squad used 12-year-old Jen Purcell quite often during the summer with positive results.
There were bright spots on both teams, according to the coaches.
Mitchell pointed to a few of his younger varsity players and a couple of JV players for their summer work.
"A couple of our small-ball kids (Maddie Gilbert and Mia Townsell) improved," Mitchell said. "Naomi Roberts improved defensively behind the plate."
Mitchell also lauded the play of JV player Brenna White.
Vickrey was pleased with the progress of the entire squad, but especially younger JV players like catcher Megan Hein and pitcher Christina Gallegos. The latter was a workhorse, often pitching three or four games every weekend.
"She (Hein) improved what she does behind the dish, and she got better at the plate," Vickrey said. "Christina did a great job (pitching)."
Gallegos showed great control and has a killer change-up which she can throw on any count.
Hannah Shaw, Caitlin Sinclair and Marcel Watson also were praised by Vickrey.
- Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281