PORTSMOUTH — The Portsmouth Trojans’ softball program’s seniors are still looking to build off their successes from a year prior — even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Softball and baseball players in Scioto County have had the start of their 2020 season postponed until at least the beginning of May, an unprecedented notion in these unprecedented times.
Coming off a 13-16 record (8-6 Ohio Valley Conference) and returning most of their roster from their sectional runner-up team a season ago, the time was right for the Trojans to make that jump — just ask senior catcher Jacqueline Bautista.
Bautista, along with the rest of her four-person senior class, saw this season as an opportunity for Portsmouth softball to take another step up the totem pole.
“I really thought this season would be our season and I looked forward to that a lot,” Bautista said. “I was excited for the bus rides and talking trash with the baseball team. Mostly I was excited to play one last time with the girls I’ve grown to love and become close with.”
With their 8-6 record in OVC play last year, the Kristen Bradshaw-led Lady Trojans finished third in the conference race with having graduated three seniors.
Bautista and fellow senior Marissa Soto added what their experience playing under Bradshaw, a Northwest and Wright State softball alum, has been like in their days as Trojans — and how they hope to continue that if this season is ultimately played.
“It’s been good,” Soto said. “She’s an amazing coach to us and helps us continue to get better.”
“Getting to move here and play for Brad(shaw) was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me,” Bautista said. “She is an amazing person, on and off the field. It’s almost like she coached me to be a better player and person. I’ve gained a forever friend in her as well as the rest of the coaching staff.”
The 2020 Portsmouth Trojans’ softball team has a uniquely balanced roster in addition to their four seniors.
Senior right-fielder Layla Kegg said the Trojans’ roster of four juniors, eight sophomores and three freshmen has helped create a strong level of competitiveness amongst their team.
This top-to-bottom way of getting the most out of your teammates ensures that if the 2020 softball season is in fact played, the Trojans will have been pushed to their limits even before the season gets under way.
“Everyone sets a good example. We all show responsibility and make sure that we all pay attention and do our best in practice like we would a game,” Kegg said. “Some underclassmen even set high examples for the upperclassmen which makes us want to work harder to earn our spots.”
Senior second baseman Cassie Potts sees the Trojans’ hitting and fielding as their strengths — if in fact her and her three senior teammates earn the opportunity to play their senior seasons out.
The 10 runs Portsmouth scored during its 10-0 sectional semifinal win over Paint Valley in 2019 would seem to make that case even stronger.
But really, as is the case with each senior who plays a spring sport in Scioto County, in Ohio, and in the United States, the Portsmouth seniors want their last season to happen — to help fully capture what being a high school student-athlete is all about.
“Our strengths would definitely have to be our hitting and our fielding. I know we haven’t been on the field in a long time but what I’ve been around and seeing is awesome. No we’re not a perfect team, but we will fight for what we want and that’s a win,” Potts said. “We have strong batters and a very strong infield. I’m really hoping we can get back into the field for my senior year because I’ve been playing since I was five and don’t want to stop playing. I’ve made so many new friends and have a lot of fun with the girls on my team. My goal is to be a stronger player. At the end of the season last year, I had to have knee surgery. I came back this year better but a little weak. Right now I’m working on just to get stronger in my leg so I can move a lot better. I want to be back on that field so bad with all my teammates. I love all my softball girls to death and would do anything just to have one last go around with them. I love you guys and go Trojans!”
If schools indeed return to in-person classes by May 4 as is currently the schedule, the OHSAA has designated Saturday, May 9 as the official start to the 2020 spring sports regular season.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved