Slow-pitch softball returns to Clinton
It’s been nearly two decades since Clinton High School played slow-pitch softball, but the sport is back this year when Clinton plays its season-opening doubleheader at 5 p.m. March 7 at Elk City.
CHS head fast-pitch coach Lisa Moss will also coach the slow-pitch team this season. Moss said the team began its transition into the spring season as soon as Clinton closed out the 2018 fast-pitch year. She said the Lady Reds furthered their games on the field and in the weight room.
“We have been getting ready for this since Oct. 1,” she said. “As soon as fast pitch was over, we spent the whole offseason in the weight room, doing plyometric boxes, working on agility and things like that – just getting faster and stronger. Then on the off days, we would do softball stuff, play catch and hit. We’ve been working on our whole game to try and get better.”
The slow-pitch game features multiple differences from its fall counterpart. First and foremost, Clinton will see a change in classification, making the jump from Class 4A to 6A.
In terms of in-game differences, teams play with 10 players as opposed to nine, adding a rover or extra outfielder onto the field. As the name implies, the pitcher tosses the ball across the plate slowly, allowing batters to get easier swings at the ball. This means the game relies more on fielding than who is in the circle.
Moss said they’re working on the little intricacies of the game, such as communicating between the outfielders and rover and who has priority.
Moss said both pitchers have worked throughout the offseason. Clinton’s coach said she hasn’t figured out all the starters yet but expects junior Jenna Santos to start at pitcher, and senior Micah McAtee, a first-year player, to pitch as well for the Lady Reds.
Junior three-year, fast-pitch starting catcher Kennedy Meacham moves from behind home plate to second base. Sophomore Loren Coleman will stay in her spot from the fall at shortstop. First and third base starters haven’t been announced yet
Moving to the outfield, two of the four spots are set. Sophomore left fielder Kenzie Naranjo maintains her starting job from the fall. Fellow fall outfield starter Morgandee Cabaniss is staying in center field too.
Moss didn’t rule out the possibility of moving Cabaniss to the rover spot, but she expects her to start somewhere in the outfield. Whichever place Cabaniss fills, the two remaining spots are in a position battle. Moss said Peyton Tharel, Nieva Long and Cassidy Blanchard are all competing for a spot out there.
Defense isn’t the only part of the game that will see changes. The offense obviously hits 10 batters instead of nine due to the number of players on the field. Luckily for Clinton, multiple starters are back in both regards.
The two girls that stand out the most from the offseason workouts are Meacham and Coleman. Both made All-District the last two fall seasons. Meacham enters the spring on the heels of her best defensive season at catcher, which Moss hopes translates to the infield. She caught every single inning in the fall and allowed just nine passed balls.
Coleman returns as the team’s active leader in batting average (.390) and on-base percentage (.449) and is an athletic player at shortstop.