Young Skipjacks look to compete with the best
Softball squad to face top-caliber teams on spring trip, in league action
WYE MILLS One look at their schedule and it’s clear the Skipjacks aren’t afraid to play anybody, anywhere.
Chesapeake College begins its women’s softball season with a 10-game Florida spring trip with challenges literally from start to finish. The Skipjacks open Sunday with a doubleheader against Lansing (Mich.) Community College, ranked fifth in the nation in NJCAA Division II, and will cap the trip Thursday with a doubleheader against three-time defending NJCAA Division III national champion Monroe (N.Y.) Community College.
The Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference schedule is no less ambitious, starting with a league opener against a CCBC-Catonsville squad ranked 10th in the nation in NJCAA Division II.
"I’m looking at it as an opportunity to go out there and beat these teams," said Durrie Hayes, Chesapeake’s second-year head coach. "If you don’t play ’em, you can’t beat ’em. You have a chance to compete against some of the best teams in the country. It’s not about racking up wins although wins are nice it’s about getting better every day."
Hayes, whose Skipjacks went 6-17 in his first season as head coach, has three sophomores providing experience on a freshman-dominated team. Shortstop Jordan Glessner (Colonel Richardson High) and outfielder Amber Johnson (Cambridge-South Dorchester High) will anchor the infield and outfield, respectively. Hayes said Easton High grad Diana Dieter a reserve outfielder who serves as a team captain along with Glessner and freshman first baseman Anna Morris "brings leadership and energy" to the squad.
"Jordan is a defensive specialist. She’s the best infielder we have," Hayes said of Glessner. "Amber was second in hitting last year and is real fast with a strong arm.
"The sophomores have ’been there, done that,’ which is important with nine freshmen on the team," said Hayes, who said he is also pleased to have assistant coach Mike Hawkins back from last year’s team. "They make sure the girls understand how we do things, which really takes a load off of me."
Morris, an Easton High grad, "was our most consistent hitter during fall ball and through the preseason," according to Hayes. Three of the team’s freshman pitchers second basemen Jordan Wright (North Dorchester High) and Erica Kinney (Glen Burnie High), and third baseman Jill Piasecki (Kent County High) will also see time in the infield at various times of the season.
"Jordan’s a very strong pitcher," said Hayes, noting Wright threw a perfect game last weekend in a scrimmage against Wesley College. "Jill Piasecki, Erica Kinney and Melanie Buck (Lackey High/Charles County) all have their strong points on the mound, but haven’t put it all together yet. We expect that they will."
Piasecki, Julia Carr (Seaford Christian High), and Antionette Hughes (North Dorchester High) can all catch Chesapeake’s stable of pitchers.
"It’s been a nice surprise with having Antoinette Hughes coming out for the team in the second semester," said Hayes. "She’s a couple of years older and brings some maturity and a big bat to the lineup."
Two other freshmen Lauren Howell (North Dorchester High) and Kyra Gould (J.M. Bennett High) will see time in the outfield.
"We’ll have seven or eight regular starters and rotate the other girls in," said Hayes. "We fully expect everybody to contribute."
Hayes said it’s too early to get a feel for how the Skipjacks will fare in conference play.
"It’s hard to tell," said Hayes. "Catonsville is ranked 10th in the country, and Dundalk’s got their number-one pitcher back. She’s one of best pitchers in the region. And Hagerstown is always strong.
"I think we could surprise people if our pitching steps up and we continue to progress," Hayes said. "We have enough talent to beat anybody in the conference. The key will be consistency."
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