Softball Mariners focus on building program
April 20th | Sean Pearson
As one of only four returning seniors on the Homer High School softball squad, Mary Hana Bowe is keeping things in perspective as she and her Lady Mariner teammates embark on their 2017 season.
Her team is flush with a surplus of young, albeit very talented, freshmen Bowe said the Mariner upperclassmen have come to an agreement about what she called a "learning and rebuilding year."
"Our main focus this year is to have a great time, win as much as we can, and create a positive experience for the younger girls," Bowe said. "It's all in the hope that it will allow them to build the same awesome connection we all have with the sport."
Bowe said she and fellow seniors, Elsie Smith, Annali Metz and Malina Fellows, are all excited to be working with the younger girls; their goal is to pass on knowledge and experience, and help them build confidence.
Back in March, head coach Bill Bell brought internationally known softball educator Cindy Bristow to Homer for a clinic. Hailing from Tampa Bay, Fla., Bristow is an All-American player, Hall of Fame Coach and previous Olympic and National Pro Fastpitch Coach. Coach Bell said Bristow spent a week working with the Lady Mariners, and also presented on the special impact of competition in female athletics at the high school.
Last week, the Homer junior varsity team opened its season on the road with solid tournament play in Kodiak. The young Homer squad played seven games and just barely missed taking the tourney title.
"We came in second, losing the championship game by a run in the last inning," Bell explained. "But we saw a lot of growth in all the new young players."
Bell's "new young players" include a solid freshmen class of Rylie Doughty, Becca Chapman and Annalyn Brown, as well as returners Bri Hettrick and Sam Moonin.
"We definitely have a lot of fresh, young faces," Bowe said. "But our freshman class has been very impressive."
Bell agreed — adding that the weekend tournament was a great opportunity for the team to learn how to work together.
"We all learned a lot and melded into a team," he said. "It's always a heartening feeling to see a team come out of many individuals; they are on their way to being highly skilled softball players."
Quite highly skilled in her own right, Bowe was a first-team, All-West Coast selection from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association last year. She said the team's main challenge is their lack of experience.
"Since we have a very young team, it's challenging to move into advanced plays and strategies," she explained. "But basic skills are what win games, so we are working on nailing those down first."
So why should softball fans brave the brutal sunshine and warm temperatures to watch the Lady M's play this year?
"I would say the best part will be our energy," Bowe said. "I think anyone watching will be able to tell we're giving our best efforts and having fun. Plus, the warm sun is always a bonus."
The Lady Mariners are scheduled to open their varsity season at home on April 25. The field at Jack Gist Park is slowly drying out — so whether it will be dry enough to play on in less than a week is anybody's guess.
Find out more about Homer High School softball at www.marinersoftball.net