Young Marauders already showing improvement | Softball

New coach working with veterans, novices
By David Robert Pan | Mar 14, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan Mariner’s Rachael Hendrickson takes over at catcher this season.

To say Mariner is fielding a softball team with a wide range of experience is an understatement.

A few of the Marauders come in with eight or nine years of experience. Others showed up on the first day of practice and put on a softball uniform for the first time.

The varying skill levels are challenging to new head coach Nathan Beachy.

“It’s a task now,” Beachy said. “I’m just trying to keep the girls that have been playing for a long time engaged but still trying to teach those basic fundamentals that a lot of the girls are going to need.”

First baseman Tiana Rorke-Lucero, one of only two seniors, is impressed by the progress of the newcomers.

“There has been a lot of improvement just in these last couple of weeks,” Rorke-Lucero said.

The Marauders are looking to junior Rachael Hendrickson and sophomore Mariana McMurtie to provide leadership both on and off the field.

Hendrickson is taking over at catcher, a position she’s never played before this season. Hendrickson saw time at shortstop and the outfield last year. McMurtie, a pitcher, also is a varsity returner.

Beachy decided that the team needed Hendrickson’s defensive skills behind the plate.

“Having Rachael back there increases our chances to stop the run game,” he said. “She’s got a good enough arm that will throw out most average to above average runners. We had to have somebody that’s got some leadership qualities and she definitely kind of took the reins, being one of our only four upperclassmen…She’s got all the elite athlete characteristics that you look for.”

Hendrickson said the transition to catching is going well.

“I’m a quick learner,” she said. “Most of our players are needed elsewhere.”

McMurtie has solid velocity with her pitches.

“She’s got lot of upside,” said Beachy, an English teacher at Mariner High School, who relocated from Arizona last year.

The infield is led by freshman Mackenzie Graham, another player with select softball experience. Nia Hawkins, the team’s other senior, is slated to play first and third base and possibly catcher.

“We’re spreading people all over the place to see where they’re going to rise to the top,” Beachy said.

Victories haven’t come easy to Mariner the last season with the squad posting only three wins in the last four seasons.

Beachy sees a lot of potential with the team’s youth and the players’ willingness to learn. The key to the Marauders’ development is going to be how well they play defense and keep runners off the bases.

“I don’t see why we couldn’t be a lot better than what people expect us to be,” Beachy said.

Hendrickson also is hopeful.

“The beginners have learned so much already,” she said. “I think we’re going to progress so much over the season and that we’re going to surprise a lot of teams.”

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