MHS softball

Senior Jana Walker attempts to lay down a bunt in Maryville softball's 5-3 loss to Chillicothe Sept. 24. 

With the 2019-20 season nearing the halfway point, Maryville softball (4-8) is looking back at the first half of the season to view both setbacks and progress.

While few in the Maryville community viewed this season as a state-winning year, the development in the program and lessons learned make this season a difficult but valuable one for both the players and coaching staff.

Though many of the girls have played softball at some point in their life, the ‘Hounds offense lacks getting key hits while on the defensive side they struggle to make the right decisions during a play. These are the skills the ‘Hounds are lacking in order for them to be continuously successful.

Certain aspects of the game are changing and hard to adapt to in such a competitive conference like the MEC, coach Chandra DeMott said. Movement pitches, rise balls, seasoned and challenging batters and an ever-growing and talented conference are a few of the bumps Maryville has gotten over this season. Being able to adapt to these issues, this year and for many seasons to come will build the program and bring prosperity.

“We, from the get-go, have been a fairly solid defensive team,” DeMott said. “We really struggled offensively for something to go in our direction. We spent a couple of practices working solely on the short game and bunt situations. We’ve been utilizing some of that, which worked for us (Sept. 30) against Lafayette.”

Along with wins racking up against teams like St. Pius and South Holt, the 'Hounds have found their fair share of losses against other teams among the likes of Savannah and Stanberry. This same mentality has grown on the program and is now seen in both the players and coach.

“It's been a bit of a cold start to our season, but it’s not something we’ve been overtly disappointed in. Every loss we’ve had, with the exception of two, have been close ball games,” DeMott said. “We knew we were right there on the verge of what we needed to do, we just fell a little bit short of it every time.”

While certain parts of the game can be evaluated and changed by a coach or other player, the weather situation throughout the area as of late has caused issues for the team. With the days swaying from extreme heat to tornado watches, the inconsistency has greatly affected the team and the player’s mental state.

As many of them were getting into the swing of the season and perfecting their throwing, batting or game day routines, the sudden change in weather has forced them to adapt.

“When we see a rainout with that first tournament in Stanberry, and a loss in three games right off the bat, that is kind of a quick three games to get our girls kind of in the flow,” DeMott said. “I think we’re struggling because we’re finding that rhythm so much later in the season … The weather definitely affects the mental aspect of this game at times.”

With DeMott and company hoping that the weather gets better, and the ‘Hounds coming off of a win against a traditionally tough Lafayette team, DeMott sees the next few weeks as promising for the Spoofhounds. With roughly half of the season left, Maryville proceeds with a positive mindset and a hopeful view for the future of this season and many seasons to come.

“Coming off a really solid year last year, it was going to be a bit of a growing pain in that we were replacing four seniors with freshmen,” DeMott said. “I think we were fairly realistic of where we were and where we needed to be and what we needed to work on. My older girls have done a great job of talking up those young girls and help them fill those shoes like they needed to.”

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