Mix of youth, experience leads Bobcats to successful seasonPublished 9:49pm Thursday, May 9, 2013
Good times have returned to the Brandywine High School softball program.
The Bobcats, who last had a winning season in 2008, have beaten teams in a variety of ways with a mix of experience and youth in posting a 15-4 record.
“We’re playing great defense and making plays that we haven’t made before,” said Brandywine coach Angela Mellott. “We’ve also never had the speed that we have this year. We try to score runs off our speed.”
Brandywine, which won a state title (Division III) in 2001 and was state runners-up in 2003 and 2004, has stolen 24 bases this year with freshman Makenna Hartline and sophomore Justine Sater each totaling five to lead the team.
The Bobcats have also been hurting teams with their power. Sophomore Kelly Harper is batting .500 with nine homers and 29 RBIs. All nine homers have been hit over the fence.
“She keeps her head on the ball and is a very good hitter,” Mellott said about Harper.
Harper is one of several offensive threats for the Bobcats. Junior Miranda Smallmon is batting .477, Sater is hitting .458, freshman Michaela Hartline is batting .418 and Makenna Hartline is hitting .413 with two homers. Senior Mikayla Kemp has also slugged two homers this season.
Kemp has also contributed as a pitcher. She stands at 9-3 with a 1.30 earned run average with 74 strikeouts over 80 2/3 innings.
“(Kemp) uses her fastball and she keeps hitters off balance by using her dropball, screwball and curve,” Mellott said.
When Kemp hasn’t been able to pitch because of an ankle injury, sophomore Hannah Hadden has stepped in on the mound and been effective. Hadden is 4-0 with a 1.05 earned run average with 37 strikeouts over 20 innings. This is Hadden’s first year on the varsity.
“She’s done a great job for us,” Mellott said about Hadden. “She throws a fastball and a change and hits her spots.”
Kemp and Hadden have been helped by some of the great defense provided by freshman first baseman Sydney Carlson.
“She doesn’t bat often, but she’s made some great plays for us defensively,” Mellott said about Carlson. “She’s saved us a few times. She’s scooped throws out of the dirt, fielded ground balls and run down fly balls. She’s definitely fast.”
Joining Kemp as the lone seniors on the varsity is catcher Rachael Ort. Ort is batting .292 with a .941 fielding percentage.
When Brandywine split a doubleheader on April 8 against Hartford, winning 14-0 and losing 10-0, Kemp and Ort organized a team meeting.
“The players feel that they have the potential and skill this year and need to utilize it,” Mellott said. “The players are taking ownership this year. The chemistry is great. All the players get along very well. They want to be successful. We have a lot of leaders.”