Softball to play with more autonomy
Marion’s softball team isn’t just big this year, with 24 players; it is also deep enough that coach Jennifer Felvus expects she’ll be able to make several lineup changes between games in double-headers to keep opponents from getting too comfortable without hurting the team’s competitiveness.
She said the team made big improvements during the season last year in thinking about and understanding game situations. She expects the team to excel at making the smart plays this year, because the team held on to those improvements over the offseason.
Because of that, one of Felvus’ goals is to do less instruction from the dugout during games. One example is that catchers will call their own games, instead of coaches calling in pitches. The catchers have been working on developing a rapport with pitchers, getting on the same page.
Felvus said that allowing the players more freedom to call the game and make adjustments can give them more confidence and ownership of the game.
The team has five returning starters from last year’s varsity squad: Megan Richmond, Samantha Davies, Bailey Robson, Kayla Kroupa, and Reann Hamm, although several of them are changing positions. Davies will move to catcher after playing in the field most of last year, Kroupa will play more first base, and Robson will be the starting centerfielder.
Richmond, Kroupa, and freshman Shelby Felvus will pitch the most for the team. Jennifer Felvus said one of that trio’s strengths is how different the pitchers are from each other, which will force opposing batters to make adjustments whenever there is a pitching change.
Richmond is very experienced, knows how to play situational defense, and is able to take a lot of pressure, Jennifer Felvus said. She said Kroupa has a strong arm and has good resolve as a pitcher, and that Shelby Felvus gets a lot of movement on breaking balls.
Jennifer Felvus said the team will put a good defense on the field behind its pitchers. She said she preaches to her players to never take a play off and never give up on making a play. She said the team has the skills to make plays if they don’t concede.
She said she is excited about the offense because of improvements from last year. Richmond and Davies are solid hitters, and Robson and Kroupa have the ability to drive in runs.
She said she didn’t think the team would have a single weak spot in its lineup. Early indications are that the team will have a lot more power than last year.
“Between bunting and base hits, we’ll have it locked down,” Felvus said.
She thinks the team has all the tools it needs to finish in the top half of the Heart of America League.
“Of course, I want No. 1. What coach doesn’t?” she said.
The team starts the season Tuesday at Herington. Felvus expects the starting lineup for the first game of the doubleheader will be Samantha Davies, catcher; Megan Richmond, pitcher; Kayla Kroupa, first base; Megan Davies, second base; Shelby Felvus, shortstop; Reann Hamm, third base; Shayla Kline, left field; Bailey Robson, center field; Elizabeth Meyer, designated player; and Sheridyn Arterburn, right field (flex).