The Springstead Eagles Junior Varsity Softball team thrashed the Central Bears 16-2 on Thursday evening at the Eagles’ Nest. As the home team put the finishing touches on its run-rule-shortened victory, the evolution of the team from last year to this year was apparent. A winless squad a season ago, the Eagles are now 6-2 with multiple games of 15-plus points to their name. While the season is not over, and the metamorphosis is not yet complete, the results thus far are a far cry from those of the previous year. What is it that makes this team different? Springstead’s Junior Varsity Softball Head Coach Scott Giles spoke on his team’s performance versus the Bears and the factors he credits for Thursday’s victory that have also played a role in the Eagles’ success throughout their 2023 campaign.
“Team’s given a really good, solid effort,” Coach Giles said. “We’ve got a really good freshman pitcher with Addi Gad, who’s been leading the team. Girls [have] been crushing the ball when they get up to hit at the plate, and they’ve just been putting in that consistent effort, putting in the hard work at every practice. The results you see on the scoreboard, it’s paying off for these girls – the hard work they put in.”
Pitcher Addison Gad was slinging it against Central, and the bats came alive early and often for the home team on Thursday. With the Bears up to bat first, shortstop Natalie Lechuga stepped up to the plate. The sophomore would catch a piece of a Gad pitch and hit a ground ball toward second baseman Jessica Giles who threw her out at first. Gad then struck out third baseman Genevieve Barreto and catcher Sha’neil Roundtree, retiring them in short order. That brought up the bottom of the first inning and the Eagles’ offense.
Central’s pitcher, however, would not have such a clean outing. Second baseman Madison Wagner was first up to bat and was walked. Shortstop Victoria Ortega was up next, and she hit it between second and third base for a single. Third baseman Patricia Lett was quickly walked as well, and now the bases were loaded with no outs. The situation would not get better for the cross-county visitors as Gad was walked, sending Wagner home. This would happen two more times, giving the home team a 3-0 advantage with bases loaded before Central would record their first out on a pop fly by catcher Ivanna Castro. That did not stop the bleeding, though. Yet another Eagle, center fielder Alexis Acton was walked, and another point went up on the board for Springstead. Then the floodgates opened. Wagner’s second at-bat of the inning ran a trio of Eagles home to bring the score to 7-0 with one out. The bottom of the inning continued much in the same way, with Gad hitting three more players home a few minutes later. The inning mercifully ended with the home team up an insurmountable 12-0.
The second inning passed without much incident as both teams played solid defense to hold the other scoreless. The third and final inning saw the scoring pick up again for both teams. In the top of the third, Gad quickly dispatched the first two batters. The third out of the inning would elude Gad for a time as Lechuga, and outfielder Kaylee Somers would find their way to home plate for the Bears, but Roundtree was thrown out at first to bring out Springstead’s offense for the final time. The home team quickly loaded the bases in as many batters before multiple walks, and errant pitches gave the Eagles the run rule 16-2 victory.
While the Springstead coach was clearly pleased with how his team performed on both sides of the ball during Thursday’s abbreviated home tilt, there were some aspects he wanted his players to continue working on – namely, hitting. “Going to keep working on offense, on hitting,” Coach Giles said. “Making sure these girls are able to put the ball in play. Assist the defense so that when the ball comes in play on defense, they can put those outs on the board.”
Moving onto their next matchup against Lecanto High School, Lecanto entered the matchup fresh off a dominating series victory over the Weeki Wachee Hornets, in which the Panthers blanked their opponents 22-0 on the road in game one. However, the Eagles cleared both games of the doubleheader against Lecanto with a win on Friday night, March 10. Next on their regular season schedule, they travel to Land O’ Lakes on March 22 to take on the Gators.