Skipjacks' Hayes draws strong freshman class built around local talent
WYE MILLS Durrie Hayes, Chesapeake College’s second-year women’s softball head coach, is old-school when it comes to his recruiting philosophy.
"Our recruiting underscores the age-old belief that teams win with pitching and defense," said Hayes, who used that same formula to win three state titles while coaching at Easton High. "With the freshman class we’re bringing in, I feel like our pitching and defense will keep us in games. The offense, for the most part, is going to dictate how much we win."
North Dorchester High graduates Lauren Howell and Jordan Wright were Hayes’ first two freshman signings. Anna Morris from Class 2A state champion Easton High, Tiffany Ricks and Renee Staton from Class 1A state runner-up Colonel Richardson, Jill Piasecki from Kent County High, and Caroline County resident Julia Carr (Seaford Christian High/Seaford) are other local recruits.
Stephanie Wheeler (Kings Fork High/Suffolk, VA), Melanie Buck (Lackey High/Indian Head, MD), and Erica Kinney (Glen Burnie High/Glen Burnie, MD) round out the group of freshman recruits, although several other freshmen may earn roster spots as walk-ons.
Hayes, whose team will play more than a dozen games this fall to prepare for next spring’s season, is particularly pleased with the pitching depth provided by his incoming freshman class.
"We have the starting pitchers from North Dorchester (Wright), Colonel Richardson (Staton), Glen Burnie (Kinney) and Kent (Piasecki), and Anna Morris is certainly capable of pitching for us," said Hayes.
The freshman contingent strengthens the Skipjacks in multiple areas, according to Hayes.
"The players in the freshman class can pitch, play defense, should hit pretty well and give us good team speed," added Hayes, who indicated the recruits’ successes with their summer teams made him even more enthusiastic about the incoming freshmen.
"There are never any guarantees in softball, but it certainly gave me a warm feeling to see Jordan Wright shut down the 18U (18-and-under) Heartbreakers in the state championship and to know that Erica (Kinney) and Stephanie (Wheeler) had big-time tournaments, finishing third and fifth, respectively, at the recent PONY National Championships in Ohio.
"Our defense should be very strong," continued Hayes, who will have slick-fielding shortstop Jordan Glessner back from last year’s team with Carr capable of playing second, third or short. "Anna (Morris) is great at first and when you add Jordan (Wright) and Erica (Kinney) at second and Melanie Buck at short, we have multiple infield options at every position."
Two recruits Wheeler and Ricks are capable of supplying superior catching, according to Hayes.
"Tiffany did a great job at Colonel catching the last two years and Stephanie is really smooth back there," said Hayes. "They both throw well and they both are very good outfielders."
Hayes said that he loves the speed game and smiled when he noted that he has four players led by last season’s second-leading hitter, Amber Johnson who have been timed from home-to-first in less than 2.9 seconds.
"We should be able to put tremendous amounts of pressure on opposing defenses if those players can get the ball on the ground," said Hayes.
Outfielder Diana Dieter also returns from last year’s team.
"Diana was a walk-on last year who ended up starting in the outfield," said Hayes. "She worked herself into the player she is now."
The team’s fall schedule includes a trip to Durham, NC to play four games against Division I North Carolina Central University. The schedule also includes games against Division I University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Morgan State University, and Division II Goldey-Beacom College.
"Playing programs like Morgan State and North Carolina Central will hopefully get us battle-ready," said Hayes.
The Skipjacks open their fall season at home Saturday with games against Prince George’s Community College (10 a.m.) and Rappahannock College (2 p.m.). Chesapeake travels to Wilmington, Del., Sunday to play Burlington County College at noon and Goldey-Beacom College at 2 p.m.
Photo caption: Chesapeake College head women’s softball coach Durrie Hayes, far right back row, has nearly a dozen recruits as part of his 2008-2009 freshman class. Among the recruits: left to right, back row, Melanie Buck, Julia Carr, Anna Morris; left to right, front row, Renee Staton, Erica Kinney, Lauren Howell, and Jordan Wright.
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