Word of mouth helps Husky softball team grow
Jun 02, 2017 11:26AM ● Published by Travis Barton
A Hillcrest pitcher releases a pitch against during a region game against Olympus. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
Gallery: Word of mouth helps Husky softball team grow [3 Images] Click any image to expand.
Four years ago, Steve Carrell was starting his first season as head coach of the Hillcrest softball team with 15 players showing up for tryouts. Fast forward to the 2017 season where he had 57 girls tryout and kept 30.
“Last year, I did a lot of recruiting (in the school), this year I didn’t have to do much because word of mouth between last year and this year really spread,” Carrell said.
It’s a sign of the program’s growth. With many freshmen trying out every year having never played the sport coaches are teaching the game of softball.
“We’ve grown, every game we’ve gotten a little bit better. We’ve had some ups and downs just due to the fact of inexperience,” Carrell said.
With five wins on the year, the growth might not appear on the scoreboard, but it’s coming Carrell said as they look to build a feeder program at younger ages.
Carrell said having those programs so they’re not teaching how to play the game at the high school level, is the only way to compete for region and state titles.
“It’s hard to get them built but once you get them built, it’s pretty good,” Carrell said.
He said it’s part of a seven to eight year process creating that infrastructure.
“We figure by the time I’m in my seventh, eighth year we should be to that point where we start competing,” Carrell said. “In the long run, we’re right where we want to be.”
At the halfway point, with 57 girls trying out and the possibility of an eighth-grade team next year, Carrell is feeling positive about the future.
“With the sophomores, freshmen and juniors I have playing varsity already, that experience is going to put us a good spot next year so I actually feel really good,” he said.
Some players developed quicker than expected this season that moved into starting varsity positions, including a primary pitcher who just started pitching last season.
The end of the season also saw the completion of Carrell’s first class of seniors he’s nurtured since they were freshmen: Emalee Egelund, Lexi Guidash, Mariah Nielsen and Autumn Richards.
“They’re the ones that really instilled what we wanted as far as mentality, as far as work ethic and really pushed it onto the team,” Carrell said about his graduating seniors. “They’re the ones that really helped to build the program and from their start to where they’ve gotten us to now is huge.”
The returning girls will continue playing with teams over the summer, which Carrell hopes leads to an improved team next year.
“My overall goal every game, every practice, every pitch is 1 percent better. If we can get 1 percent better every time, we get better all the way around,” he said.