The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

July 2, 2014

Pacers’ Cusack pleased with softball summer league results

ENID, Okla. — Enid High School softball head coach Marsha Cusack was pleased with her team’s progress after the Pacers went a combined 19-1 in both the Perry and their own summer leagues.

Perry, Ponca City, Stillwater and Frontier were among the teams at Perry. The Enid league was comprised of smaller schools in the area.

“We showed a good work ethic,’’ Cusack said. “We practiced hard and worked hard. We struggled early in our hitting, but we came on at the end.’’

The Pacers return six players with starting experience from last year’s 16-20 team — pitcher Ally Lewis, right fielder Olivia Andrews, center fielder Haven Bay, shortstop Brooke Sears, designated hitter-third baseman Keara Jenkins and outfielder-pitcher Marybelle Garcia.

However, Cusack said several of the jobs should be open when the Pacers start their preseason practice Aug. 1 with their first game a week later in a doubleheader with Del City and Midwest City.

“We’re more balanced than we have ever been,’’ said Cusack, who is entering her fourth season. “This is the first time that I’ve had a difficult time deciding who’s going to start. We have about 13 kids who are pretty even.

“There’s going to be a lot of competition for starting positions. Who’s going to get them may come down to whoever is having the best day that day.’’

Lewis, a two-year letter winner, got stronger and matured over the summer according to Cusack.

“She still hasn’t met her potential,’’ Cusack said. “She is getting better ... she’s good enough now that we’re going to win a lot of games. She should get stronger throughout the year.’’

Cusack said she expected Lewis to pitch almost every game this fall.

The Pacers received a jolt when junior catcher Jade McAlister chose to graduate early.

Freshman Lauren Black could be her replacement, but Cusack could move her to the infield because of her athleticism.

“She is so talented defensively,’’ Cusack said. “She is not as big as you would like to have a 6A catcher to be, but she plays tough and plays hard.’’

Jadyn House, a junior, and Jatshe Wilson are other possibilities.

“I thought losing Jaden McAlister would hurt us, but we have worked past that,’’ Cusack said.

House returned to the sport this summer. She played basketball  quit to concentrate on pom and cheerleading. She is the daughter of EHS assistant football coach Shawn Mills.

House also is a candidate to replace third-team All-American Abby Lee at second.

“Her softball IQ isn’t as high as some of the others because she hasn’t played as much,’’ Cusack said, “but she’s a great athlete and is very coachable.’’

She will be competing against sophomore Alecia Chain and freshman Chelsea Salinas for the second base job.

“We’re going to be moving kids around,’’ Cusack said. “We might not have a set lineup until mid-season.’’

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