Brighton softball underclassmen step up after injury bug nabs three starters
A Brighton player tags an opponent out before she reaches second base. (Josh Woodside/ Brighton Softball Assistant Coach)
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With nearly half of their team being freshman and many of those freshmen having little softball experience, odds were stacked against Brighton’s softball team at the start of the season. Then they lost three starters to injury.
Erica Olsen was the starting catcher and a potential all-region player according to head coach Sam Puich. She got a blood clot in her leg and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
The same is probably true for starting center fielder Abby Woodside, who is the only senior on the team and who made all-region last season. She appears to have a torn labrum in her shoulder and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Starting right fielder Maisy Hayes is the fastest player on the team according to Puich. She has a severely sprained ankle that refuses to heal.
“We’re struggling a little bit,” Puich said. “We’ve had a lot of injuries. I’ve been forced to start four freshmen and they’re coming along very well. The kids are getting better and better every week, but it was kind of a tough thing to lose some key players pretty much for the season.”
Junior pitcher/first baseman and captain Kat Bertram said her younger teammates have been coachable despite many having to learn completely new positions.
“(Injuries) are obviously a big part of the sport we play and I think that having a lot of players out with injuries is really hard on us and lowers our team morale as a whole,” Bertram said. “So, in order to overcome that we’ve had to put players in positions that they’ve never seen before and overall, as a team I think we’ve done really well coping with it.”
Freshman twins Abby and Sydney Little are a couple of the freshmen who have stepped up in to play positions they haven’t before, with Sydney in left field and Abby playing first base.
“Erica Woodside, Abby (Woodside’s) younger sister, has stepped in to play catcher and she’s done remarkably well, not only from a defensive standpoint but she’s one of the leading hitters on the team,” said Puich.
“The younger players are eager to learn and they want to get better so they’re open to any of the coaches’ constructive criticism or tips,” said assistant coach Josh Woodside. “They really are eager to learn.”
Puich said the younger players on his team have meshed well with the older players.
“They have a lot of fun together and they support each other, and I think that’s what helped the kids grow,” Puich said. “The young ones really trust the older ones and the older ones are not afraid to push the young ones, but at the same time they really treat the kids with a lot of respect. And I like that.”
As an upperclassmen, Bertram has been a steadying force.
“I’ve kind of had to rely on her to shore up our defense just with her pitching, and then she’s our leading hitter on the team as well,” Puich said.
Puich said one thing that makes things hard for their program is the fact that few young girls play softball in their area.
“I’m just very proud of how hard they have worked and how committed they are to becoming a good team,” Puich said. “They’re probably not going to win a state championship or anything else; their goal is to qualify for state and I think they have a good chance to do that this year, but just how hard they work and how much pride they have in representing their school is something that I’m really inspired by.”
Bertram said her team has improved offensively, defensively and that their attitude is overall more positive than it has been in past seasons.
“I wish people knew how hard we work as a team,” Bertram said. “A lot of times they come to our games and they might not see the best side of our team, but we really do work hard at every practice. At every game we put all our heart into it and I wish people would see that more when they came. Sometimes it’s hard to show, but I wish people would see it.”