(March 20, 2015) Heather Patnode said she learned some things about herself after her first season as head coach of the Stephen Decatur softball team last year and what to do differently for 2015.
Last season was Patnode’s eighth year with the program. She helped run the JV team for three years before becoming an assistant varsity coach under Don Howard. He stepped down as head coach after 35 years leading the team and Patnode took over for the 2014 season.
The Lady Seahawks finished 2014 with a 9-9 record. They lost 11-0 to Northern of Calvert County in the second round of the 3A South Regional tournament.
Sixteen girls – two seniors, seven juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen – make up the varsity team this season. Only three of the players – senior Hannah Fleming, junior Hillary Jarman and sophomore Samantha Kefauver – competed for the varsity squad last year.
A handful of the girls were on the JV team last season and some of the newcomers have experience playing travel or recreation softball, Patnode said.
“It’s a rebuilding, reteaching year. We’re young, but the girls are very willing to learn,” Patnode said. “Their mentality and their dedication will help us move forward quicker that what I expected. It’s one of the most enthusiastic teams we’ve had in a long time.”
Patnode will count on her veterans to lead the team as well as newcomer, junior pitcher Jade Pontious, because of their softball knowledge.
Kefauver will be behind the plate again as the squad’s catcher.
“I feel like because I got such a good experience last year, I can help out a lot of the new girls and since I see everything [from the catcher position] I’ve got to direct everybody … I’m kind of like a leader out there on the infield,” said Kefauver, a two-year varsity team member. “I think everyone’s coming along. I hope we do well, we stick together and help each other out as much as we can.”
Fleming will play in the center outfield and Jarman will take the left field position.
Newcomer Maria Karacoulakis, a sophomore, will step into the shortstop spot.
“It’s a brand new team so it’s going to be a little difficult teaching everybody. We’re getting to know each other and just working on basics … I’m excited to be leading the outfield this year,” said Fleming, a three-year player. “It’s a totally different feel this year. I’ve never played with an entire team that wants to be here 100 percent. Everyone this year has really good attitudes and I’m really excited about it.”
With such a rigorous schedule this season, playing three games each week and some back-to-back, Patnode said it would be beneficial to have two pitchers. Pontious transferred from Valley Forge High School in Ohio and junior Madelyn King was the Decatur JV team’s pitcher the last two years.
Pontious was mainly a catcher at her previous school, but she pitched also.
“I think I’ll be able to do pretty well as long as I stay focused,” she said. “I’m always excited for softball season. I hope to make a name for myself and help the team, and to improve as well.”
Patnode said the goal this season is for the Seahawks to improve after every practice and game. She also hopes the team will finish with a .500 record or better.
BASEBALL AND SOFTBALL:
March 23: Mardela, 4 p.m. (H)
March 25: Crisfield, 4 p.m. (A)
March 26: Washington, 4 p.m. (H)
March 30: Snow Hill, 4 p.m. (A)
March 31: Parkside, 4 p.m. (A)
April 1: Bennett, 4 p.m. (H)
April 7: Wicomico, 4 p.m. (A)
April 9: Pocomoke, 4 p.m. (H)
April 10: North Caroline, 4 p.m. (A)
April 13: Mardela, 4 p.m. (A)
April 15: Crisfield, 4 p.m. (H)
April 16: Washington, 4 p.m. (A)
April 20: Snow Hill, 4 p.m. (H)
April 22:Parkside, 4 p.m. (H)
April 23: Bennett, 4 p.m. (A)
April 27: Wicomico, 4 p.m. (H)
April 30: Pocomoke, 4 p.m. (A)
May 1: Indian River, 6 p.m. (H)