With a team short on experience, and with a drastically shortened season (not to mention offseason) in which to gain more, progress in the fundamentals of softball shaped the spring for the Elkton Elks.
Describing this season as a “whirlwind” even before its official end, Elkton Manager Katie DeBonis pointed out that much of her team had never played the game before this year. Which is not to say that success was nowhere to be found. Elkton can count wins against Glendale, Oakland and Riddle to its favor this year, and the Elks fought hard even in their losses.
But according to DeBonis, the scoreboard certainly can’t tell the entire tale of the Elks’ season.
“As you can expect with a team that is looking at softball with fresh eyes, we had so many successes to celebrate: laying a bunt down (perfectly) for the very first time in a game and making in on base; catching a pop fly in the outfield for the first time at a really key moment, stealing a base for the first time,” she said, adding that “their excitement and celebrations were very sweet and incredibly inspiring to be part of.”
In fact, the camaraderie among players helped the Elks weather their challenges.
“We have a few girls with some experience, and they were really great about teaching and lending insight to the less experienced players,” she said. “I am super thankful that they all were incredibly supportive of one another.”
Last week, Elkton found itself on the wrong end of tough losses against the North Douglas juggernaut and a talented Bandon team. And yet, DeBonis said she feels that more time to prepare in the preseason could have helped them be more competitive against such quality competition.
“I think our biggest challenge was the limited timeframe prior to games starting, particularly with newer players,” she said. “We had a lot of girls that were just scared of the ball, and as the season progressed, it lessened. I just wish we would have had a little more time leading into the season to work on basics.”
The Elks were led by pitcher Avree Block and catcher Bailey Peacock, who DeBonis called the “driving force” of the team. But with solid fundamentals to draw from, it seems certain that Elkton will be a force to be reckoned with in future years.
“All of these girls have put in a lot of hard work, and I’m so very proud of the progress they’ve made,” DeBonis said. “I think the work they’ve put it this year gives us a really solid footing to begin again from for next year.”
Elkton was scheduled to finish its 2021 softball season by hosting a doubleheader against Yoncalla last night (after press deadlines).
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