By Rob Tetro
The Fulton girls’ varsity softball team is preparing to begin its season with great expectations.
After playing in the sectional quarterfinals and semifinals the last two seasons, not only do the Lady Raiders want to qualify for sectional play but they want to win a Sectional championship.
Coach Derek Lyons said his team has been playing together for a long time. With the improvement that they have shown along the way, he hopes to see his team qualify for the state playoffs.
Fulton is expected to be amongst the most experienced teams in Section 3 this season. The team will feature seven seniors and two juniors who have seen a lot of playing time over the past few seasons.
Lyons said his nine experienced players know what it takes to have a successful season. The seniors are Maureen McCann, Hannah Jones, Anna Guernsey, Mikayla Guernsey, Caitlin Chrisman, Kassidy Kearns and Keisha Pierce.
The juniors wth experience are Cheyenne Laun and Courtney Parker. These players are joined by fellow juniors Jessica Marvin and Katelyn Ely along with sophomore Casey Jones.
The Lady Raiders began practice in early March. Lyons expected them to be in pretty good physical condition when practices began and his team obliged.
Lyons said most of his players were in good physical condition because they took part in winter sports.
But Lyons said softball is a sport that relies on reaction a lot more than other sports. Developing reaction time was a big part of the first couple weeks of practice.
The players who didn’t participate a winter sport prepared for the season by taking part in open gyms and working hard in the weight room. Lyons feels every player could run the bases in a solid time.
However, the climate has limited the team’s outdoor training time. Lyons said even though his team appears to be in good shape, they will still be challenged when the time comes to adjust to running outdoors.
Fulton won’t have captains in a traditional sense this season. For the most part, Lyons expects to recognize his nine experienced players as leadership figures on a rotating basis. These players will be recognized based their work ethic and how they handle adversity and Lyons hopes the Lady Raiders benefit from the experienced players’ ability to lead by example.
The Lady Raiders will face a challenging schedule this season. A team they beat last season, Jamesville-DeWitt, is expected to be equally as tough this season.
Lyons hopes his team can continue to build off of the experience of winning against such a good team. East Syracuse Minoa is expected to be equally as challenging for Fulton.
Both Jamesville-DeWitt and East Syracuse Minoa are expected to benefit from strong pitching this season. Lyons also said Mexico, Cortland and Homer will be solid teams this season and be tough outings for the Lady Raiders.
The biggest strength Fulton expects to have this season is the leadership abilities that its experienced players bring to the table. The Lady Raiders also hope to get on base at a solid percentage. There are six players with .400 averages in hitting.
Fulton expects to have a fast and aggressive offense. Lyons said a hard-hitting offense equates to a lot of wins. He also expects the returning pitchers to be ready to preserve a lead their hard hitting teammates create.