Softball: New-look Warriors finding new ways to manufacture runs
West Orange is right back to its winning ways in 2016 with a small-ball approach at the plate and a stingy defense.
| 7:36 p.m. February 29, 2016
WINTER GARDEN It seems no one told the West Orange softball team that replacing a loaded senior class of six college-bound players was supposed to be hard.
The Warriors are off to a 10-1 start this spring, fresh off of a 10-1 victory over district rival Olympia Feb. 26. And, though this year’s team has jumped out to a successful start much like its predecessor in 2015, this edition of West Orange softball has a different energy to it — starting at the plate.
“(We have) a lot of girls who know how to hit and place the ball very well,” senior infielder Sam Moore said. “There’s not a lot of power, but there are girls who can place the ball very well.”
Indeed, the Warriors are hitting .356 as a team through 11 games this spring with a .448 on-base percentage. What’s more, West Orange has stolen 30 bases — without being caught stealing once.
“We don’t have as many (power hitters) in this lineup, but we do have more speed,” head coach Todd LaNeave said. “So we’ve had to kind of change our mindset, a little bit,offensively.”
Junior Morgan Arcia has a team-high 21 RBI, followed by sophomore Lexie Blair’s 17 RBI. Jade Caraway has scored the most runs for the Warriors so far with 17 and Blair and Arcia each are batting. 500 to lead the team.
“It’s a good, tight-knit group. They have settled into their roles very well and they’re very supportive of each other, which is great.”
Todd LaNeave, coach
Averaging 8.7 runs per game, the Warriors may not be scoring as much as they did last spring, but they are manufacturing offense — and protecting those leads on defense once they have them.
Through 11 games, West Orange is allowing just 1.5 runs per game. Junior standout Lauren Mathis has shouldered most of the load on the pitcher’s mound this spring, with Caraway doing some work as a closer and sophomore Landry Newgent with a pair of starts to her credit and four appearances, overall.
Mathis has not allowed an earned run all season, allowing just three runs in total. Caraway has one save on the books and Newgent has a win.
Thus far, the Warriors’ sole loss came at the hands of undefeated American Heritage (Plantation) in a 1-0 pitchers’ duel. Impressive wins include the victory over Olympia, which is improved this spring, a pair of wins over new district foe Lake Brantley and a victory against East Ridge.
There are new starters for LaNeave at first base, second base, third base and right field. There is a freshman on the team (infielder Claire McDonnell), along with several newcomers from last year’s junior varsity team, but the word seems to be that these Warriors have bonded quickly.
“It’s a good, tight-knit group,” LaNeave said. “They have settled into their roles very well and they’re very supportive of each other, which is great.”